Sea­son be­gins

Young Cap­i­tals open sea­son in Wood­stock, look to be­gin sea­son 1-0

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - BY THOMAS BECKER news­room@jour­nal­pi­oneer.com

Sit­ting at a 0-0 record, any­thing can hap­pen. It’s a time when dreams run free and the pos­si­bil­i­ties are truly end­less. For the Summerside Western Cap­i­tals, it’s a time to set goals and take care of some un­fin­ished busi­ness.

Af­ter get­ting swept in the se­cond round of the 2016-17 MHL (Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League) play­offs at the hands of the Mi­ramichi Tim­ber­wolves, the Cap­i­tals look to re­turn to the fi­nal four and per­haps make a play for that elu­sive ti­tle. How­ever, it won’t be easy. With a large turnover of play­ers, the Cap­i­tals are un­ques­tion­ably younger, but gen­eral man­ager Pat McIver is con­fi­dent his team can in­te­grate fresh blood to his ros­ter, while still play­ing a com­pet­i­tive brand of hockey.

“I think we’re ca­pa­ble, but we grad­u­ated nine play­ers and we had three guys make the jump to Ma­jor Ju­nior,” McIver said. “We were in the fi­nal four the last two years and we were the only team in the league to do that. Now we have some turnover and it’s kind of like a re­build, but with the young play­ers that we have, you just never know.”

With the jour­ney set to be­gin on the road against the Wood­stock Slam­mers tonight, the Cap­i­tals look to con­tinue their re­cent suc­cess against the western

New Brunswick foe. Last year, the Cap­i­tals went an im­pres­sive 5-1 against the Slam­mers, while outscor­ing them 17-9.

“I feel we match up well, but we don’t know who they brought in yet and what kind of team they’ll have,” said Cap­i­tals head coach Billy McGuigan. “But I’m anx­ious to get go­ing here to see what we have in com­par­i­son to the rest of the league.” De­spite hav­ing a young squad, McGuigan has faith his veter­ans can lead the small, but speedy ros­ter of the Cap­i­tals. Cap­tain Mor­gan Mac­Don­ald and as­sis­tant cap­tains Hunter McIntyre, TJ Shea and Se­bastien Cormier will fill the role as the team’s lead­ers. While Kal­lum Muir­head (42 points in 43 games

in 2016-17) and de­fence­men Jesse An­n­ear and Scott Bagby round out a very strong vet­eran nu­cleus to de­pend on.

“Our veter­ans have been with us for two to three years now and we ex­pect them to im­prove their game and we’re hop­ing our young guys can progress through­out the sea­son,” he said. With the hard work and fun­da­men­tals the team is built on, McGuigan is hop­ing his team can jump out of the gate on a high note and cap­ture that first win.

“If you look at sea­sons past, teams have made the play­offs in the last day of the sea­son, so points early on are re­ally im­por­tant.”

JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER FILE PHOTO

TJ Shea of An­glo-Tig­nish re­turns to the Summerside Western Cap­i­tals this sea­son as one of the team’s vet­eran play­ers.

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