Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals forward Austin Taylor of Summerside is one of many players with the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) team this season.
©Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – Billy McGuigan has a good idea how the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ roster will shape up this season.
“This year we really need to take a focus on starting over and rebuilding our program, getting ourselves in a position where we have a good group of guys on our list who are younger and can hold us through the next three years,” said the Caps head coach. “At the end of the day, we are pretty certain what we are looking to do. We are looking at a team of younger players this season.”
The Caps, who are 1-2-1 (won-lost-overtime losses), conclude their pre-season schedule in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) on the road against the Amherst Ramblers on Saturday night. The Caps will open the regular season in Woodstock, N.B., on Sept. 16, and the Slammers will pay a return visit for Summerside’s home opener on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m.
McGuigan confirmed on Thursday the Caps are currently down to three goaltenders, six defencemen and 15 forwards. He noted defenceman Matt Templeman decided to return home to Newfoundland and Labrador, and forward Cale Pierce, who has been injured, will join training camp.
“Honestly, with our team right now, I’m excited about this season,” said McGuigan. “I like the youth movement, love the young guys and at the end of the day we will see how the division turns out.”
McGuigan noted the league has changed in recent years.
“Players are starting to pay to play now,” said McGuigan. “There is no money going out to players any longer, and it’s turned a corner.
“I believe, with that, we have to grow as an organization as well and make sure we are doing the right things as a franchise. We have adapted the mandate to go local, and that’s what we are doing. I think right now we have 16 of 22, 24 guys from Prince Edward Island.”
McGuigan also added the Caps have signed two 16-year-old P.E.I. products – forward Josh MacDonald and defenceman Jordan Spence. Both players played with the Luke Beck-coached Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League last season.
“Those are two guys we will be keeping for sure,” reiterated McGuigan.
As a coach, McGuigan is looking forward to helping develop so many young players. He proudly noted the Caps have had over 50 players from their program advance to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Canadian university hockey, American Hockey League and NCAA hockey in the last six years.
“We are happy with our development, and we are going forward going to try and continue that,” said McGuigan.