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The Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Knights are looking to take the next step in the 2020-21 New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Under-18 Hockey League.
The Knights iced a youthful team one year ago and finished the regular season 12-20-6 (won-lost-overtime losses). The Knights and Kensington Wild were tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven provincial championship series when Hockey Canada cancelled all sanctioned events due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in March.
"We were pretty disappointed with how the season ended last year, but it gives us the motivation to push hard this year," said Knights' sophomore forward Colby Huggan of Charlottetown.
With a solid core of returnees, the additions of some promising rookies and a solid 5-1 pre-season record against the Mount Academy Saints and the Wild, there is no shortage of optimism around the Knights heading into this weekend’s season-opening games.
Charlottetown will host the Fredericton Caps at MacLauchlan Arena on Friday at 7 p.m., and then travel to Kensington to take on the Wild on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“I’m excited to get started,” said Knights forward and team captain Max Chisholm, a 17-year-old Summerside native. “I think we are going to have a really strong team this year. We are excited to make a push and go for a provincial title.”
Forward Cam MacLean of New Haven said the Knights are anxious to get started.
“There are some big things coming this year,” said the 16-year-old MacLean, who registered 15 points in 14 regular-season games a year ago. “We are highly skilled, will be looking to put the puck in the net, have lots of fun and have a great season together.”
Huggan said the Knights want to package depth, speed and grit. He added he has been impressed with the team’s work ethic and focus during training camp.
“We have pretty high expectations,” said the 16-year-old Huggan, who had 37 points in 33 regular-season games last year.
Knights head coach Luke Beck said the team feels “very fortunate” to have the opportunity to play meaningful games again. The Knights are closing in on two months this week since a longer-than-usual training camp opened.
Beck, who said the Knights will be dealing with high expectations this season, felt a turning point in the team’s development was the SaltWire Network East Coast Ice Jam tournament last January in Bedford, N.S. The Knights had a strong showing and finished in the Final 4.
“We thought the momentum carried right through until things came to a screeching halt,” said Beck. “We are happy with our group, excited about our group and very pleased with where the players are at.”
Jack Howatt and Aiden Williams return to give the Knights a strong tandem in goal, which Beck says is critical for any team with high expectations. Beck felt Howatt and Williams were in the “top tier of goaltenders” in the six-team league last year.
Beck described the Knights' defence as “mobile”, and he likes the mix of four second-year players and two rookies.
“We feel they can all play top minutes, will push each other to get better and move the puck up the ice as well as be aggressive,” said Beck. “We feel we have four deep (forward) lines who can score, compete and, most importantly, we want to play in a pack of five-man units.”
Did You Know?
- Fans are asked to note there will be limited attendance at the start of the 2020-21 New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Under-18 Hockey League season.
- The Charlottetown Knights are currently allowed 100 fans. • • • This total includes 20 parents of the visiting team and scouts.
- The Knights are working on a plan to have all games streamed. More information on this is expected to be released Thursday.
Asked what fans can expect to see from the Knights, Chisholm said the team is looking to bring a bit of everything to the rink each night.
“We are going to have a lot of depth and skill, but I also think we are going to be one of the hardest-working teams in the league,” said Chisholm, who had 23 points in 28 regular-season games a year ago. “It's going to be a lot of fun.”
MacLean said another key for the Knights is combining the team’s skill with aggressive play. He added, “We are highly skilled, will be looking to put the puck in the net, have lots of fun and have a great season together.”
Charlottetown Knights’ season-opening roster:
30. Aiden Williams
33. Jack Howatt
2. Luke Coughlin
4. Landon MacDonald
5. Will Smith
7. Isaac Vos
9. Harry Clements
18. Will Morrison
8. Jude Campbell
10. Caleb MacDonald
11. Brett Arsenault
12. Cole McKeigan
14. Jonah Jelley
15. Jesse Blanchard
16. Nolan Stewart
17. Max Chisholm
19. Colby Huggan
20. Cam MacLean
21. Connor Keough
22. Kal White
General Manager: Greg O’Brien
Hockey Operations: Scott Bridges
Head Coach: Luke Beck
Assistant Coaches: Jason MacDonald, Ben MacDonald
Goalie Coach: Wayne Savage
- A story previewing the upcoming campaign for the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild will be published in The Guardian later this week.
- The Wild opens the regular season against the Charlottetown Knights at Credit Union Centre on Saturday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Jason Simmonds is a sports reporter for The Guardian.