The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ defensive depth was on display Saturday night.
Despite missing one of their top defencemen, the Caps’ six-man unit stepped up and quietly played a big role in a 7-3 victory over the Valley Wildcats in the Maritime Junior Hockey League at Eastlink Arena. Rookie Zach Biggar, who logs a heavy workload, was called up by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan for Saturday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game in Halifax.
“Zach’s a big part of our team, but we have depth all the way through and guys know their role, they know what to do night in and night out,” said Caps’ 17-year-old rookie Ed McNeill, a Summerside native.
McNeill, Gianluca Fuoco, Brodie MacMillan, Theo Citrullo, Jacob Arsenault and Isaac Wilson played a strong game on the blue-line in front of goaltender Dominik Tmej. Wilson, who has seen time at both forward and defence, moved back to the blue-line for Saturday’s game.
“Our D as a whole, all six guys, played a solid game,” assessed Caps head coach Billy McGuigan. “When we are getting pucks up ice and closing the gap and shutting down their opportunities, we are a good team.
“They were good (Saturday).”
The Caps’ defence was given an early cushion to work with as the home team scored twice in the game’s first 1:18 and extended that lead to 3-0 at 7:36 of the first period.
“We were excellent early on and did some of the things we were talking about doing,” said McGuigan. “We got good positioning, we got pucks out in the middle of the ice, got pucks to the net and early on we were ahead of the game.
“We kind of cruised a bit in the second and picked our socks up in the third.”
McNeill, who added two assists and was named the game’s third star, said the Caps were ready to play right from the opening faceoff.
“The guys are having a lot of fun in the room and it’s a lot of fun right now,” said the Summerside native. “We just know what to do.”
Kallum Muirhead scored two goals and added two assists to lead the Caps, who improved their league-leading record to 26-5-1 (won-lost-overtime losses). Brodie MacArthur, who added a goal and an assist, sits atop the league scoring race with 64 points – 32 goals and 32 assists. Muirhead is one point back with 25 goals and 38 assists for 63 points.
Josh MacDonald (1-1), Marc-Andre LeCouffe (1-1), Colby MacArthur and Brodie MacMillan also scored for the Caps.
“We stuck to the game plan for most of the game,” said Muirhead. “Usually, when we get a lead right off the start quick we get away from our game and try to do things individually.
“For most of the game (Saturday), we stuck to the game plan.”
- Click here for feature story on Western Capitals forward and assistant captain Kallum Muirhead:
- Click here for story on Western Capitals acquiring MHL playing rights to Prince Edward Islander:
- Recap of the game between Western Caps and Valley Wildcats:
- Final score – Capitals 7 Wildcats 3.
- Scoring – Capitals: Kallum Muirhead (2-2), Brodie MacArthur (1-2), Josh MacDonald (1-1), Marc-Andre LeCouffe (1-1), Colby MacArthur; Brodie MacMillan; Wildcats – Luke Wilson (2), Sam Grant.
- Assists – Capitals: Ed McNeill (2), Jacob Arsenault (2), Cam Roberts (2), Zach Thususka, Marc Richard; Wildcats: Darren Waterman (2), Jack Olson, Sounthon Thammachack.
- Period scores – 4-0 and 5-2 in favour of the Capitals.
- Shots on goal – 44-31 for the Capitals, including period advantages of 11-9, 17-13, 16-9.
- Goaltenders – Capitals: Dominik Tmej; Wildcats: Chad Arsenault.
- Power plays – Capitals: 0-for-2; Wildcats: 0-for-3.
- Penalties – Referees Tim Hamel and Thane Arsenault called five of the game’s nine minors against the Capitals.
- Three stars – 1. Kallum Muirhead (Capitals), 2. Marc-Andre LeCouffe (Capitals), 3. Ed McNeill (Capitals).
- Attendance – 1,301.
- Quote – “When you try and get pucks on the net, good things happen,” said LeCouffe. “Right off the start after we got the lead and kept going.”