© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Zach Whitlock, 91, bangs a rebound past the outstretched left pad of Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Capitals goaltender Kyle Michalovsky for the Woodstock Slammers’ fourth goal of Thursday night’s MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game at Eastlink Arena. Also in the play are the Slammers’ Tyler Brown, 47, and JM LeBlanc, on ice, along with the Capitals’ Mitch Dempsey, right, Jesse Annear, 3, and Joey Colatarci.
Woodstock defeats Summerside 6-2
The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals now have company atop the Maritime Junior Hockey League's standings.
The Woodstock Slammers picked up a 6-2 road victory over the Capitals, leaving both teams with 45 points. The Slammers, who have three games-in-hand, are 21-6-3-0 while the Caps, who have lost two of their first three games since the Christmas break, are 22-10-1-0.
“It was a big game for us in terms of the standings," saidSlammers head coach Fabian Joseph. “We wanted to weather the storm in the first period, and we did that. It was a good start for us and a good finish.”
At Eastlink Arena, the Slammers took a 1-0 lead just past the halfway mark of the first period and never trailed, although the Caps twice closed to within one goal – 2-1 and 3-2.
“I thought for two periods we were pretty solid,” said Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “Woodstock has a good team, they are the favourites in the league and are hosting the Fred Page Cup.”
The game marked the debut of three Capitals – forwards Riley Whittingham and Sam LeBlanc along with goaltender Kyle Michalovsky – acquired before Sunday’s trade deadline. Whittingham displayed a wicked shot, scoring off a faceoff at 12:20 of the second period, LeBlanc earned an assist and Michalovsky finished with 32 saves.
The Slammers led 1-0 after the first period and took a 3-2 advantage into the second intermission. The Caps thought they had tied the game just before the buzzer sounded in the middle frame, but referee Thane Arsenault disallowed the goal because the net was dislodged.
The Slammers came out and controlled the third period.
Zach Whitlock banged home a rebound 1:45 into the third period to make it 4-2, and Riley Craft (15:08) and MacKenzie Brown (19:21) rounded out the scoring. Kris Hodge, Tyler Brown and Noah Zilbert also scored for the Slammers.
Each team had 26 shots on goal through two periods, but the Slammers outshot the Caps 14-8 in the final 20 minutes.
“I think they just wanted it a little more,” said McGuigan. “They were sacrificing their body, they were blocking shots and we seemed to be out of sync a little bit in the third.
“We have to get better, and hopefully we will be right there with them.”
The Capitals directed 34 shots atZachary Fortin, who had back-to-back shutouts against the Capitals in December. Blaize Bridges’s goal at 7:18 of the second period snapped Fortin’s shutout streak against the Caps at 147 minutes and 18 seconds.
“Their goalie has stymied us pretty good, and it was good to get a couple of goals on him tonight,” said McGuigan.
Joseph said the Slammers take great pride in team defence.
“Our defence is a five-man unit out there, and everybody is buying in right now,” he added.
The Capitals next game is in Dieppe, N.B., against the Commandos (21-9-1-0) on Sunday afternoon. Dieppe is only two points back of the Caps and Slammers.