General manager Pat McIver confirmed three members of last year’s Capitals – forwards Brodie MacArthur and Marc-Andre LeCouffe, along with goaltender Matt Williams – will start the 2017-18 season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. MacArthur, who led the Caps in regular-season scoring with 50 points in 50 games, is with Moncton, LeCouffe will play for Acadie-Bathurst and Williams joins Saint John.
“It’s a bittersweet day for sure,” said McIver in a phone interview with the Journal Pioneer on Wednesday morning. “On one hand we are extremely proud to have been able to help these kids along the way to achieve their goal of getting to a higher level. On the other hand, it leaves some significant holes in our lineup.
“We have always taken good pride in developing players to go onto the next level. With our commitments to university and the guys going to major junior this year, I don’t think anybody can question our development track record in Summerside.”
Three Caps’ graduates last year – forward Nathan Yetman and defencemen Tanner McCabe and Alex McQuaid – have committed to the UPEI Panthers for the 2017-18 Atlantic University Sport campaign.
“There were a couple of other guys who were offered opportunities, and for different reasons decided not to pursue university hockey,” added McIver. “There were five guys of our nine 20-year-olds last year who were extended opportunities to play at a higher level this year.”
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With MacArthur and LeCouffe playing as midget-aged rookies with the Caps last season, McIver agrees that their success and development can only help make the Caps an attractive option for young players.
“We are into training camp and have a ton of midget kids, and they see this stuff,” said McIver. “They see what’s happening, they see the opportunities that guys are getting who are coming through our program. It’s a feather in our cap.
“At times we don’t want to think we are a development team and a development league, but the reality is we are, and the proof is in the numbers with our program. We are extremely proud of that.”
When asked what he attributes the development success to, McIver answered: “It’s a lot of everything. We are practising four days a week now; we didn’t use to do that, and we are working on everything.
“I firmly believe it starts from the top down, and the coaches are doing a great job with the younger guys, and even the older guys. For example, take Tanner McCabe’s game the last two years. He’s a pro hockey player now, and you couldn’t have said that five years ago when he started out with us.”
McIver added he feels the Caps’ fan base, location and Credit Union Place also make the Caps attractable.
“I’m biased, but I believe Summerside is one of the best markets in Canada to play junior A in,” added McIver.
A look at last year’s stats:
Minutes played: 1,651.58.
Goals-against average: 3.52.
Save percentage: .900.
Minutes played: 267.18.
Goals-against average: 2.92.
Save percentage: .920.