SUMMERSIDE – Just maybe, now people will start throwing the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ name around in the conversation of serious contenders in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League).
The Capitals posted a solid 5-1 victory over the Edmundston Blizzard on Thursday night in one of the most physical and hard-hitting MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) games of the 2017-18 season in Summerside. Edmundston was ranked No. 19 in this week’s Canadian Junior A Hockey League rankings.
“We played a pretty good game for the whole 60 minutes,” said Capitals forward Chris Chaddock, who recorded a game-high four points. “We were working hard at practice about competing, and we did that.”
The Blizzard, who is 29-9-3-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) and the league’s top team, now holds an eight-point bulge over the Capitals (26-14-1-0) in the Eastlink North Division.
Last two games
The Capitals, who defeated Edmundston 4-0 in Summerside on Jan. 25, have now outscored the Blizzard 9-1 in their last two games. Caps goaltender Dominik Tmej, who turned in another strong 42-save performance, has stopped 84 of 85 shots in those two games.
“We were good above pucks, kept the pace and kept coming,” said Caps head coach Billy McGuigan in assessing his team’s play Thursday. “We were getting pucks in behind their D, and making them play a little bit of defence.
“In our own end of the rink, we were real solid and didn’t give up much quality, and when we needed saves Dom made them. Overall, it was a good effort for the 60-minute game.”
Both teams were missing their leading point-getter as the Caps’ TJ Shea, who has a league-leading 93 points, sat out a one-game suspension while Edmundston was missing Alexandre Jacob’s 50 points. The Caps were also missing defenceman Jesse Annear, who is listed as day to day.
“The discussion before the game was we had a couple of key guys out, arguably our top forward and our top D,” said McGuigan. “Guys have to step up at times like that, and a lot of guys did that. It was a good team effort.”
Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals forward and team captain Morgan MacDonald falls to the ice after getting the puck past Edmundston Blizzard goaltender Francis Asselin for a short-handed goal in the second period on Thursday night. The Caps won the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game, played before over 1,100 fans at Eastlink Arena, by a 5-1 score.
Before 1,162 fans at Eastlink Arena, Chaddock got the Caps off and running 2:09 into the first period, and Austin Taylor made it 2-0 at 9:35.
The score remained 2-0 until the Caps struck for two quick goals just past the midway mark of the middle frame. Alex Hambly made it 3-0 at 11:17, and captain Morgan MacDonald’s short-handed effort at 13:10 gave the Caps a 4-0 lead.
Mathieu Blanchard would answer with a short-handed goal for the Blizzard late in the second period. Another short-handed goal by Chaddock at 8:30 of the third period closed out the scoring.
When asked what it means to win back-to-back games against the MHL’s top team, Chaddock offered: “It’s definitely a boost, especially after losing our last game to Campbellton (5-1 on Feb. 2). We wanted to make sure we were ready for this game, and we did.”
Both McGuigan and Chaddock were not surprised at the game’s physical play, which included numerous hard hits and some after-the-whistle skirmishes.
“I think that’s part of their game plan against us,” said McGuigan. “Obviously, they are a lot bigger team than us, and we are a pretty fast, quick team.
“We are the second-lowest penalized team in the league, we don’t take a lot of penalties and we just skate and work. They were trying to physically scare us, but we weren’t backing down. We were more interested in the two points than getting mixed up in that stuff.”
Chaddock added: “It was two great teams, and they are the best team in the league. We knew it was going to be a battle out there.”
A recap of Western Capitals-Blizzard game:
Final score: Capitals 5, Blizzard 1.
Scoring: Capitals – Chris Chaddock (2-2), Morgan MacDonald (1-1), Austin Taylor, Alex Hambly; Blizzard – Mathieu Blanchard.
Assists: Capitals – Brodie MacArthur (2), Sebastien Cormier (2), Thomas Harper (2), Sam Lau; Blizzard – Samuel Bastille.
Period scores: 2-0 and 4-1 in favour of the Capitals.
Shots on goal: Blizzard 43, Capitals 27.
Goaltenders: Capitals – Dominik Tmej; Blizzard – Francis Asselin.
Three stars: 1. Chris Chaddock (Capitals), 2. Dominik Tmej (Capitals), 3. Sebastien Cormier (Capitals).