UPDATED: Back to Campbellton

Jason Simmonds
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Caps survive wild third period to stay alive in MHL playoffs

SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are still alive in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) playoffs.

The Capitals prevailed 6-4 on Thursday night to cut the Campbellton Tigers’ lead in the best-of-seven Eastlink North Division semifinal series to 3-2.

“We knew coming in it was do or die,” said Caps forward Sam LeBlanc, who scored a hat trick. “We know we have a team that can go all the way, so there was no way we were going to quit here. Everybody showed up today (Thursday), and worked their butts off.”

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Now the Capitals will look to duplicate the same effort in Game 6 at the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“We have to play the same game we played here at home,” said LeBlanc. “We have to be ready to play on Saturday.”


Quick start

Before 1,726 fans at Eastlink Arena, the Capitals came out hitting and built period leads of 3-0 and 4-0.

“When your life is on the line and you are at home obviously you feed on the energy,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “The guys were focused and ready, and Sammy LeBlanc took them on his back a little bit. We got contributions from a number of guys.”


Penalty killing

A big story of the second period was an outstanding job by the Caps’ penalty-killing units. The Caps, who were assessed five straight minor penalties, killed off three of those before the Tigers scored during a 5-on-3 power play 13 seconds into the third period.

Thomas Stavert’s power-play goal and his second tally of the night at 6:16 gave the Caps a seemingly comfortable 5-1 cushion.

But the pesky Tigers capitalized on two 5-on-3 man advantages in the third period, and closed to within 5-4 with 9:13 remaining.


Goaltending change

It was after Campbellton’s fourth goal that McGuigan pulled goaltender Matt Williams, who gave up four goals on seven shots in the third period and faced 24 overall, in favour of Kyle Michalovsky.

“We knew coming in it was do or die. We know we have a team that can go all the way, so there was no way we were going to quit here. Everybody showed up today (Thursday), and worked their butts off.” Caps forward Sam LeBlanc

“I was sweating over it for a minute or two, but at the end of the day it was a decision I had to make and I don’t think I had a choice in the matter,” said McGuigan, who added no decision has been made on Saturday’s starter. “Kyle only had to face four shots. Like I’ve said before, Kyle is a good goalie as well.”

With the teams in for a nail-biting finish, LeBlanc capped a hat trick with a fluky goal at 18:22 to give the Caps a 6-4 advantage. LeBlanc’s shot went off the glass behind the Campbellton goal and deflected off the back of Tigers goaltender Christofer Langlais into the goal.

Joey Colatarci (1-1) also scored for the Caps while Nathan Yetman and Josh Pugsley each contributed two assists.

Eddie Banville (2-1), Gregor MacLeod (1-2) and Kyle Orgel answered for the Tigers. Malik Johnson contributed two assists.

Overall, the Caps outshot Campbellton 37-30.

Referees Jeff Affleck and Jeff Heron called seven of 13 minor penalties against the Caps.







The Superfan’s assessment of Game 5:


Super players: Sam LeBlanc and Matt Williams.


Super play: Alex Peddle’s first-period body check on Campbellton’s Malik Johnson in the left-wing corner helped set the tone for the game early.


Super predictions: Hope to see the Caps bring it home for Game 7.


Series: 3-2 in favour of Campbellton.


Tag: The Journal Pioneer has joined other TC Media properties with MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) teams involved in the 2015-16 playoffs in choosing a Superfan to help analyze each of their favourite team’s home games. Our choice is longtime Caps fan Mark Kanne of Summerside.

Organizations: Capitals, Tigers, Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Campbellton

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