The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are hoping the third time is a charm
After dropping the first two games of a three-game homestand – 5-0 to the Campbellton Tigers on Saturday night, and a 7-4 decision to the South Shore Lumberjacks from Bridgewater, N.S., on Monday afternoon – the Capitals will look to clinch the regular-season title in the Eastlink North Division of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) on their third try. The Capitals will look to register that elusive win on Thursday, when the Grand Falls Rapids visit Eastlink Arena for a 7 p.m. start.
The Caps will visit the Miramichi Timberwolves on Friday night in another game with huge playoff implications.
The Caps enter Thursday’s action with a league-leading 34-8-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) record, two points up on the Eastlink South Division-leading Yarmouth Mariners (32-8-4) in the race for home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Both the Caps, who will play four times at home, and Mariners have six regular-season games remaining.
There is also a lot at stake for the Rapids. Although Grand Falls is in sixth and last place in the North Division, the Rapids are seven points out of a playoff spot with four games-in-hand. Grand Falls (12-22-6) has 30 points, the fifth-place Timberwolves (17-24-2) sit at 36 points and the St. Stephen Aces (17-24-3) hold down the fourth and final playoff spot with 37 points. The Rapids have played three fewer games than Miramichi.
The Rapids have handed the Caps two of their eight regular-season losses in Grand Falls. Those scores were 5-4 in regulation time on Dec. 21, and 3-2 in overtime on Feb. 8.
Capitals’ second-year forward Cameron Roberts of Kensington will be back in the lineup against the Rapids after serving a three-game suspension. Roberts has registered 17 goals and 40 assists for 57 points in 41 games. That is good for seventh in the league scoring race.
Summerside captain TJ Shea is still out with an injury, and head coach Billy McGuigan confirmed he will not play Thursday.
Dominik Tmej, who set an MHL record-setting seventh shutout on Friday night, will get the call between the pipes for the Capitals versus Grand Falls. Tmej (21-4-2) leads the MHL in goals-against average (2.14) and save percentage (.932).
Third-year forward and assistant captain Brodie MacArthur received an honourable mention for the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s three stars of the month for January. The Summerside native recorded 23 points, including 10 goals, in eight games, and was named the MHL’s first star of the month.