TIGNISH -- The Tignish Perry’s Construction Aces open against the top-ranked team in the five-team Maritime-Hockey North Junior C Hockey championship tournament.
The Aces, champions of the Razzy’s P.E.I. Junior C Hockey League face the Tri-County River Cats Thursday at 11 a.m. in Woodstock, N.B.
The River Cats breezed through their New Brunswick League’s regular season and playoffs undefeated, 24-0 in the regular season and 8-0 in the play-offs.
Aces head coach Dwayne Handrahan admits that’s all he knows about the River Cats but he suggests the New Brunswick champions don’t know what to expect from his team either.
The Aces finished the regular season in second place, four points behind the defending P.E.I. and Maritime-Hockey North champions, the Sherwood Metros, and then downed the Metros 4-1 in the championship series.
Not lost on the Aces is the fact that they took the Metros to seven games before bowing out in the 2017-18 championship series.
“We really picked it up this year,” said the Aces regular season and playoffs scoring champion, Dawson Sellick.
He said the Aces are playing a great team game and have high expectations heading into Woodstock.
Handrahan said the Aces had a good final practice on Monday. He pronounced the team ready to play.
Handrahan feels his team is stronger than the Aces team that came within one game of representing P.E.I. in last year.
Stressing that Tignish has several players who can be counted upon to score goals, he said the key of the tournament will be to have strong goaltending and solid defence.
“The good thing about our team is we can roll with four lines and have no problems.”
The Aces could have picked up extra players for the March 27-31 tournament, but Handrahan said he chose to go with the guys who carried the team all year.
The team is healthy and ready to go with the possible exception of forward Brayden Handrahan. He will be attending the tournament but still needs clearance to play after suffering an injury in the final game of the P.E.I. playoffs.
The Aces, who head out on the five-and-a-half-hour drive to Woodstock on Wednesday, have two tournament games on Thursday and two more on Friday. Crossovers start Saturday and the championship final goes Sunday.
Following their tournament opener against Tri-County River Cats, the Aces will be back on the ice at 5 p.m. against Spryfield, the Nova Scotia champions. On Friday they play Kivalliq, Nunavut at 11 a.m. and the host Western Valley at 5 p.m.
About 25 players and team officials will be making the trip to Woodstock, and Handrahan is expecting at least 25 to 30 parents will be in the crowd.