Aces feeling confident going into regional junior C hockey championship

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In the tournament’s 11-year history, a Prince Edward Island team has never advanced to the final of the Maritime Hockey North  junior C hockey championship.

Assistant coach Brian Hogan says he’s hoping the Tignish Perry’s Construction Aces can change that this year, or, at least, earn a semifinal berth. Hogan said the Aces’ best finish was a one-goal semifinal loss four years ago.

This year’s tournament is scheduled to open today in Liverpool, N.S., and Hogan said the Aces will be ready

The Aces, third-place finishers in the regular season, upset the Razzy’s P.E.I. Junior C Hockey League’s regular-season champions, Southside Lynx 4-1 in the provincial final last week to earn the right to represent P.E.I. for a sixth time in seven years.

The Aces play in the tournament’s opener against Hockey North’s representative, Kivalliq Canucks from Nunavut, at 4 p.m.

They’re on the ice twice on Thursday — at noon against last year’s hosts and defending-champion Hampton Hurricanes from New Brunswick, and at 6 p.m. against this year’s host, the South Shore Wild.

The Aces will finish round-robin play against Nova Scotia’s Spryfield Silver and Black Attack on Friday at 2 p.m.

The semifinals go Saturday at 4 and 7 p.m., and the championship final is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.

Nova Scotia teams have won the championship six times, and New Brunswick teams have prevailed five times. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have both been runners-up five times, and the Hockey North’s Canucks have finished second once.

“They’re stronger for sure,” Hogan said of the competition the Aces will face in the Maritime Hockey North tournament in comparison to teams in the P.E.I. league.

“I think it’s anybody’s tournament. We’re going over not just to participate, but to win it.”

He said the Aces would be working on defensive zone coverage in practices prior to setting out for Liverpool.

The Aces were led in the playoffs by linemates Brett Gaudet and Riley Shea with 23 points each.

Gaudet, who was limited to 10 regular-season games, led the league in playoff goals with 16 while Shea and Aces defenceman Kirk Ramsay, who finished third overall in playoff points, tied for first for assists with 14 each.

Shea finished a close second to Southside’s Rob Miller for the regular-season scoring championship.

The Aces have hosted the Maritime Hockey North championship twice, most recently in 2012.

Organizations: Maritime Hockey North, P.E.I. Junior C Hockey League, Canucks

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island Liverpool Nunavut

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