KENSINGTON – The top two teams in the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League will go head to head on Saturday.
The first-place Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild will entertain the Moncton Flyers in a 7:30 p.m. start at Community Gardens. The Wild took a seven-game winning streak, a 16-5-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) record and a one-point lead over Moncton into Friday night’s road game against the third-place Saint John Vitos (13-8-0).
“We circle the Moncton games on the calendar for sure,” said Wild assistant coach Duane Richards. “They always have a great hockey club, and always have some great talent.
“They come with a lot of speed, goal-scoring and depth. They are a challenge every time we play them. We look to come at them with our best game that we can put forward.”
The Wild took over sole possession of first place with a 6-2 win over the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride (7-11-3) before over 500 fans in Kensington on Boxing Day.
“Everybody is feeling good because we are on a winning streak, but we can’t get too high and have to be ready to go, or they will be right on us,” said second-year Wild defenceman Ethan Beaulieu, who is coming off a three-point night against Charlottetown and has quietly recorded four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 22 regular-season games.
“I wasn’t really expected to put up points,” admitted Beaulieu, who also plays a steady defensive style while providing a physical presence. “I have been moving my feet more, finding those areas and shooting the puck a little more this year.”
Richards said a key to Beaulieu’s game is keeping it simple, eliminating small mistakes and a strong work ethic.
“Ethan has a good head for the game,” said Richards. “He’s a kid we have had for two years, and we had his brother, Lucas, here before him.
“Ethan’s a gamer, he’s a competitor and he’s definitely getting better as the year goes on.”
Beaulieu admitted playing three games as an affiliated player with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) before Christmas has boosted his confidence.
“It helped me adapt to the speed here more, because they are bigger, stronger and faster in that league,” said the 16-year-old son of Richard and Tracy Beaulieu of Borden-Carleton.
Race for first
Flyers head coach John DeCourcey feels the race for first place will go right down to the wire. However, the next two weeks will play a key factor as Moncton, which holds a 3-2 advantage in the season series, returns to Kensington on Saturday, Jan. 5, for the final regular-season clash between the two teams.
"These are really four-point games when you play against the team you're battling with in the standings,” DeCourcey told the Moncton Times-Transcript. “Kensington beat us 5-2 in our building in the final game before Christmas (on Dec. 22).
"Kensington is a good team. They're big and strong and they play physical. We're going to have to be at our best to get a win in their rink. They have a small rink, and sometimes there are funny bounces. You have to play a different kind of game there."
Previous meetings this season between Wild, Flyers:
Wild 1 at Flyers 4.
Flyers 1 at Wild 4.
Wild 2 at Flyers 4.
Flyers 7 at Wild 5.
Wild 5 at Flyers 2.