Stratford, Montague defencemen adjusting to life with Western Capitals

Jason Simmonds
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SUMMERSIDE - They quietly go about their jobs with very little fanfare, but do not underestimate their role with the Summerside Western Capitals.

Rookie defencemen Sebastien Cormier, 18, of Stratford and 17-year-old Jesse Annear from Montague have adjusted to life in the Maritime Junior Hockey League just fine.

"Sebastien is coming into his own," said Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. "I find he's starting to get a little more physical, and is getting harder to play against in the D (defensive) zone.

"Jesse Annear, in my opinion, he and (goaltender) Matt Williams are the rookies of the year on our team. Jesse has been fantastic.

"When we were down D (earlier in the season), he played big minutes for us, killed penalties and played on the power play at different times throughout the year.

"They have done great for a 17 and 18-year-old."

Cormier spent a brief time with the Caps last season, before returning to major midget in Charlottetown.

"It's been a real good year," said Cormier, a Caps' first-round pick, fifth overall, in 2014. "Playing a 48-game schedule over 30 has helped my confidence."

In 44 regular-season games, the six-foot and 185-pound Cormier has 11 points, including two goals, and 32 penalty minutes.

Annear, who played the last two seasons with the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild major midget program, was a third-round pick in 2015.

"I definitely enjoy it, and it's fun to be here and at the rink every day," said Annear.

In 42 games, Annear has 12 points, including three goals, and 24 penalty minutes.

"At first I felt I started off a little slow, but once I got my confidence up I feel I have made my mark," assessed Annear.

Both rookies admit there've been adjustments at the junior A level.

"You are on the ice six, seven days a week, and it's a big commitment," explained Cormier. "You have to take care of your body on and off the ice, and the guys are bigger and stronger."

The five-foot-11 and 160-pound Annear, who has moved to Summerside and is attending Grade 12 at Three Oaks Senior High School, offered: "Off the ice I had to move schools, so that's definitely a big adjustment and having to make new friends. On the ice it's definitely the size and strength.

"I'm not a very big guy, so I have to make sure I'm using my speed going back and getting pucks, and being smart in battles because I'm not really going to outmuscle anyone. I'm just going to have to outsmart them by getting good body position, and having the stick in the right areas."

With Cormier and Annear the only freshmen on a veteran-laden blue-line, is there anyone in particular they lean on for advice?

"(Captain) Bobby Zinkan helps us out a lot," answered Annear. "If you don't understand something, he's the kind of guy you go to ask and he gives you advice and supports you."

Organizations: Summerside Western Capitals, Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Stratford, SUMMERSIDE, Charlottetown

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