SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are looking at the positives of starting the 2018-19 MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) regular season on the road.
After splitting games last weekend against the South Shore Lumberjacks (a 7-2 win) and Yarmouth Mariners (a 5-1 loss), the Caps are back on the bus Friday for the long trek to St. Stephen, N.B., to take on the Aces (0-1) that evening. The Caps then visit the Miramichi Timberwolves (0-1) on Sunday afternoon to close out a season-opening four-game road trip, before raising the curtain on their home opener Sept. 29 against the Edmundston Blizzard at 7 p.m.
“It has its pros and cons to start the season (on the road),” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “The first weekend we got a split and were pretty happy with it, and now this weekend we are looking to get four points.”
Capitals’ third-year defenceman and assistant captain Brodie MacMillan of Stratford said the early, long bus rides provide a great opportunity for team bonding.
“Those road trips are really good to get out of the way early in the year,” said MacMillan. “It forces you to spend hours and hours together.
“Going to Yarmouth even, it’s seven hours each way on the bus. That really lets you get to know everyone on the team, learn a little bit more about each other and have some fun. Having a few games on the road to start the year will really help us build as a team, and become better as a group.
“The earlier we can become a great team together, the more successful season we will have.”
When asked his early thoughts on this year’s team chemistry, MacMillan said he likes what he sees.
“The chemistry this year is pretty good,” he added. “There are a lot of Island players and we all seem to click. Even the guys who are from away, are all fitting in well, and they are all great guys.”
Another positive, McGuigan point out, is the Caps get some long trips out of the way early.
“As rough as it is on the team this year, it’s great to not have to travel to Yarmouth, Bridgewater and those places in the winter when it could be snowing and storming. It’s good to get them over early, with great driving and easy travel.”
As for this week’s games, McGuigan noted, “We want to keep track of our own structure and systems, and play them well. . . We don’t know a lot about either team, but we are looking forward to playing them.”
Summerside Western Capitals notebook:
Two Capitals – Cameron Roberts and TJ Shea – are tied for the lead atop the league scoring race with five points each. Roberts has four goals and one assist while Shea has scored once and collected four helpers.
Caps head coach Billy McGuigan expects both goaltenders – Dominik Tmej and Daniel Thompson – to each get a start in this weekend’s two games. Tmej started both games on opening weekend.
The Capitals have added 18-year-old American defenceman Michal Sivek.
As of Tuesday night, McGuigan said no other roster moves had been made. According to the team website, the Caps currently have two goaltenders, eight defencemen and 14 forwards.
Eastlink TV announced it will broadcast 10 MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) games during the 2018-19 season. The Capitals will be featured three times – Oct. 18 at home against St. Stephen, Nov. 1 at Pictou County and Feb. 21 at home versus Grand Falls (formerly Woodstock).