Summerside visits St. Stephen for Game 2 of MHL playoff series Tuesday
As the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals and St. Stephen Aces prepare to renew acquaintances, both head coaches are looking to make adjustments.
The Caps travel to the New Brunswick town for Game 2 in the best-of-seven MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) playoff series on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Caps scored two late goals to win Game 1 by a 3-1 score before close to 1,500 fans in Summerside on Saturday night.
“We played a strong hockey game,” assessed Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan. “Our third period has to be our best period every single night, and I think it was (Saturday). . .
“Some of our details have to tighten up a bit. They were sharp in their structure, and we have to get a little better.”
Aces head coach Emery Olauson is hoping to take advantage of last change on home ice.
“When you are focusing on one team you have matchups that you like, and matchups that aren’t as advantageous for you,” commented Olauson. “They had the benefit of that all night (Saturday), and they got the matchups that they wanted.
“We’ll grind away and watch the game tape to make sure we are the same at home.”
Asked what he wants to see from his team in Game 2, Olauson responded: “We have to play fast, we have to advance pucks and try to keep some of their high-end players in front of us a little bit better than we did (Saturday). Obviously, we are always going to need good goaltending against Summerside.
“The benefit of the home crowd should help. Hopefully, we even the series up and come back here and try it again.”
The Aces are promoting “Operation Sellout” for the playoffs, and the Caps are expecting a raucous atmosphere at the Garcelon Civic Centre.
“That would be awesome, I hope it sells out,” said McGuigan. “That’s great for the Maritime Hockey League, it’s great for the St. Stephen team.
“We want rinks to be full when we are playing in the playoffs. There was a great crowd here (Saturday), and a full rink makes us get a little excited, too.”
Despite a 39-point difference between the teams in the regular season – the Caps were first overall at 40-8-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) and Aces were ninth overall at 20-27-3 – McGuigan emphasized Summerside is not taking St. Stephen lightly.
“We know they are a good hockey team, and their record this season didn’t really indicate how good they really are,” said McGuigan.
One of the moves by Caps general manager Pat McIver at the Jan. 10 roster deadline paid immediate dividends in Game 1. Dylan Riley, who was acquired from the Pictou County Crushers, scored the game-winning goal at 16:24 of the third period.
“Dylan Riley is a 20-year-old, this is his last hurrah here and he’s going to give it everything he’s got,” said McGuigan. “We brought him for this type of situation – to score big goals in a timely fashion.”
Overall, Riley felt the Caps generated their share of scoring chances in the series opener. Summerside outshot St. Stephen 31-27.
“We have to make sure we are converting on those, and the goals will keep coming,” said Riley.