CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The hotly anticipated provincial major midget playoffs between the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild and the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride opened Friday in Kensington with Game 2 set for Sunday at MacLauchlan Arena.
This series went seven games last year with the Kyle Dunn-coached Kensington squad emerging the winner over the upstart Luke Beck-coached Pride.
The Wild has three league all-stars in their line-up in first-team forward Frank Fortin and first-team defenceman Clark Webster, plus second-team forward Evan Gallant. The Pride has second-team forward Connor McGregor. The Pride also has Kennedy Gallant, who finished second in team scoring with 29 points and he'll have to come up big if Charlottetown hopes to sideline Kensington.
Beck, a Charlottetown native, was named coach of the year as this team.
The Charlottetown Islanders continue the chase for that coveted eighth playoff spot in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings when they meet Moncton Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
The Islanders started the weekend with a matchup against Victoriaville on Friday. They had 72 points and trailed the Quebec Ramparts by three points, with Victoriaville and Rouyn-Noranda bunched in this group only a heartbeat away.
The Islanders have a favourable schedule but they must win their home games, if they hope to land eighth and earn home-ice advantage in Round 1 of the playoffs.
The local club does not have an abundance of scoring with Derek Gentile (19-34, 53 points) the lone Islander in the league’s top 50 at 41st overall. Daniel Hardie (25-26, 51) and Keith Getson (20-26,46) are next in line. Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph, who anchors a tight defence, has sparkling offensive numbers (13-32, 45) on a team that relies on solid defensive zone coverage and top-notch goaltending. Goaltender Matthew Welsh, who I touted to veteran hockey scout Jamie Kennedy early in the season, is fourth overall among goaltenders with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Considering Welsh plays for a ninth-place club, those numbers speak for themselves – right James Roy?
Fred (Fiddler) MacDonald and Guardian sports editor Jason Malloy look at the NHL trade deadline, major midget hockey series and a couple of recent professional hockey moves with Island connections in this week's video.
The Island Storm plays the Cape Breton Highlanders tonight at 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre in what looks like the most important game of the season so far for the Storm with that fourth and final playoff spot on the line.
The Storm will be without outstanding point guard Andre Stringer for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury, while the Highlanders are minus Duke Mondy, who signed with the NBA's G League, one step below the NBA.
On Thursday, the Storm came up with their best team effort of the season when they dumped the first-place Halifax Hurricanes in a 96-93 thriller.
Franklin Session who gets my vote as the most exciting player in the League, and certainly should be in the running for MVP honours, led the way with 27 points and was nothing short of a standout, despite playing 43 of the 48 minutes. Chris Johnson who has been red-hot in recent weeks pumped in 26 points while Du’Vaughn Maxwell was Mad Max, playing 45 minutes with 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. In other NBL games Thursday, Saint John downed Moncton 105-86, as the Magic is without Terry Thomas, another MVP candidate.
In a recent tennis tournament at the Spa, Charlottetown-born Mark Rainnie, who now lives in Halifax, won the under-15 boys’ division even though he's just the ripe old age of 11. Little Mark has already won more tennis tournaments than his dad, Bruce, ever did.
Another outstanding young talent coming out of P.E.I. is Kensington’s Rachel Phalen, 13, who is catching plenty of attention on the Atlantic tennis scene.
There’s no live harness racing anywhere in the Maritimes, but simulcast racing is available here from numerous tracks.
The situation at Truro Raceway has many of us wondering what is going on. Reliable sources tell me it will not have an impact on the harness racing schedule there this year, but one has to wonder.
At Woodbine, Jody Jamieson has been on a hot streak of late and one of the horses he won with is Euchred, who won here in Charlottetown for trainer Terry Gallant just before the end of our season. Euchred is in a $12,000 overnight event and can win.
James MacDonald has Jins Shark at 5-2 in tonight’s $34,000 feature against a field that includes Shadows Place. Also in to go is His Boy Elroy and Physicallyinclined.
As well at the Toronto track, Dan MacIsaac's money-making machine Catch The Dream was third in 1:53:4 in a $25,000 conditioned trot. At Flamboro last week, Howmacfiesty (by Carnivore) won the $8,500 preferred in a sharp 1:56:2 by four lengths over a good field including Don MacRae's Drivingthedragon N. The win should please breeder Blaine (Bruno) MacPherson.
Cowboys Don't Cry won in 1:54:4 at Woodbine on Thursday for owner Reg MacPherson of Stratford and was claimed for $18,500, a double win for Reg.
Maritime's standout Pappy Go Go stepped to a new lifetime best of 1:53:4 in a $12,000 trot last Feb. 23 at The Meadowlands, some trip for Atlantic Post Call's 2017 horse of the year.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.