SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The Arsenault‘s Fish Mart Junior B Western Red Wings were recently crowned Island Junior Hockey League champs and are preparing for the 2018 Don Johnson Memorial Cup this week in Sydney, N.S.
The Cup pits the best junior B team from each province along with the tournament host against each other in a round-robin style tournament.
Western head coach Nathan Desroches says that his boys are ready for the competition in Nova Scotia.
“The guys are focused on Atlantics now,” said Desroches.
The Red Wings, who repeated as Island champs after winning the title against the A&S Scrap Metal Metros four game to two, are the only returning team to the Don Johnson Cup this year and Desroches says that will be a big advantage for the team.
“We’re going to heavily rely on experience,” he said.
Desroches added that the veteran leadership will also help in terms of conditioning.
As they will be playing every day, and have two games in one day on Friday, Desroches believes it’s all basics.
“You got to take care of yourself and get lots of rest, it’s a long week. You got to have a good mindset,” said Desreches adding it’s something he knows his team has.
“I was on the ice when we were celebrating the Island championship and I had players telling me ‘we’re not done’, ‘we got to go over there’, so that’s a really good sign of where there heads are at.”
Playoff MVP, and team captain, Chasse Gallant said that all the credit belongs to his team.
“I had Jason Gallant on my line all year who was regular season MVP and he was huge all year. It’s just an individual that gets the award, I guess,” Gallant said
He agrees with coach that experience will be a key factor for success.
“Even our first-year guys played a little with us last year so everyone has some experience.”
With no on-ice knowledge of the other teams in the tournament, Gallant, who was selected to the all-star team at last year’s tournament, said it is all from the get-go.
“You got to play it by year. Get a feel for the thing in the first shift, first period,” said Gallant, who sees as an advantage the other teams being almost a mystery. “We don’t know a lot about them, but they don't know a lot about us.”
The Red Wings will look to improve on last year’s semifinal loss when they start the tournament Wednesday against the Nova Scotia champion East Hants Penguins. Game time is 3:30 p.m.
Written by Bryce Doiron of The Journal Pioneer