The first day is vital for the Mid-Isle Matrix.
Prince Edward Island’s provincial bantam AAA champions play two of its four games at the Atlantics on opening day today.
They play Halifax in the opening game at 2 p.m. and the host Kings County Kings at 7:30 p.m.
“The first day is huge,” said coach Cory Parsons. “To come out of the Nova Scotia league, you have to be a good team. Kings County is a tough team, too.”
The Matrix won the P.E.I. regular season, swept Sherwood in the semifinal and defeated Summerside in four games in the best-of-five final. It only allowed four goals in the seven playoff games.
“Both our goaltenders are top in the league,” Parsons said. “We have depth in scoring and our ‘D’ move the puck really well.”
Team depth and size are also traits of the Matrix.
“Everyone buys into our defence-first (philosophy), but we have such a strong forecheck as well that we can dominate teams down low,” Parsons said.
The team’s four second-year players have been a huge part of the team’s success, but rookies have also played significant roles.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Dylan Wheatley said of preparing for Atlantics. “We just have to work hard and stay focused and keep everybody on track.”
The 13-year-old Cornwall resident is a power forward who scored 29 goals in 29 regular season games this year. He said the team’s first trip to Atlantics being an hour down the road in Montague is a bonus.
“I think we’re going to have an advantage because we don’t have to travel as far,” he said.
Parsons said they are not satisfied with making the Atlantics, they’re going there with a goal of winning.
“You can’t let this opportunity slip by because it doesn’t come along every year,” he said. “A few teams win the Island, but fewer win the Atlantics.”
Regular season – 20-6-4, first in the Irving Oil P.E.I. Bantam AAA Hockey League
Playoffs – Beat Summerside in four games in the best-of-five final.
GP G A Pts
Dylan Wheatley 29 29 15 44
Kyle Pinksen 24 29 13 42
Riley Gallant 28 11 17 28
W L T GAA
Sam Mix 8 4 2 1.93
Ethan Malcom 12 2 2 2.06
Quote – “We like playing our own game and let other teams respond to us. We play a fast-paced game along the walls we dominate with our size.”
- Coach Cory Parsons