SUMMERSIDE — Although the Summerside Western Capitals are seven games under .500, there were plenty of positive steps taken during the first half of the 2013-14 regular season, says head coach Tim Schurman.
“A lot of our younger guys were getting used to junior A hockey, and a lot of them were getting used to living away from home for the first time, and a new environment like some of them were at new schools,” said Schurman, head coach of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) team. “The last 15, 16 games of the first half, we came around, we got some wins and were in a lot of games.
“We cut down on our goals-against, and gave ourselves a chance to win a lot of hockey games, which was nice. A lot of our younger guys progressed quite a bit, and now we’re looking for them to be leaders on the team.”
A look at the Caps’ team stats illustrates the development of the young players.
Sophomore Thomas Stavert leads the team with 24 points, including 16 goals, while rookies Alex Bradley and Brad Power are tied for second with 23 points each. All three have played 27 regular-season games.
“Those are guys who could have long careers here,” said Schurman. “(Rookie goaltender) Alex Kelly (of Kensington) hasn’t started a whole lot of games, but when he has, he has given us a chance to win those games.
“On the point, Cavan Fitzgerald and Joey Colatarci are playing against the top lines every night, and they are 18- and 17-years-old. There is a lot of optimism from a team standpoint.
“We like what we see from our younger guys, which allowed us to move some of our more veteran guys and we got some good return for them.”
However, two veterans who have really stepped up since being acquired since the start of the regular season, noted Schurman, are goaltender Simon-Pier Chamberland and defenceman and assistant captain Mitchell Henneberry.
The Capitals will host the Miramichi Timberwolves in a clash of two Roger Meek Division teams tonight. Game time at Eastlink Arena is set for 7 p.m.