Mak­ing the jump

Three mem­bers of last year’s Western Cap­i­tals to start sea­son in QMJHL

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON SIM­MONDS

It’s a case of good news and bad news for the Sum­mer­side D. Alex Mac­Don­ald Ford Western Cap­i­tals.

Gen­eral manager Pat McIver con­firmed three mem­bers of last year’s Cap­i­tals – for­wards Brodie MacArthur and Mar­cAn­dre LeCouffe, along with goal­tender Matt Wil­liams – will start the 2017-18 sea­son in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League. MacArthur, who led the Caps in reg­u­lar-sea­son scor­ing with 50 points in 50 games, is with Monc­ton, LeCouffe will play for Acadie-Bathurst and Wil­liams joins Saint John.

“It’s a bit­ter­sweet day for sure,” McIver said on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. “On one hand we are ex­tremely proud to have been able to help these kids along the way to achieve their goal of get­ting to a higher level. On the other hand, it leaves some sig­nif­i­cant holes in our lineup.

“We have al­ways taken good pride in de­vel­op­ing play­ers to go onto the next level. With our com­mit­ments to univer­sity and the guys go­ing to ma­jor ju­nior this year, I don’t think any­body can ques­tion our devel­op­ment track record in Sum­mer­side.”

Three Caps’ grad­u­ates last year – for­ward Nathan Yet­man

and de­fence­men Tan­ner McCabe and Alex McQuaid – have com­mit­ted to the UPEI Pan­thers for the 2017-18 At­lantic Univer­sity Sport cam­paign.

“There were a cou­ple of other guys who were of­fered op­por­tu­ni­ties,

and for dif­fer­ent rea­sons de­cided not to pur­sue univer­sity hockey,” added McIver. “There were five guys of our nine 20-year-olds last year who were ex­tended op­por­tu­ni­ties to play at a higher level this year.”

With MacArthur and LeCouffe play­ing as midget-aged rook­ies with the Caps last sea­son, McIver said their suc­cess and devel­op­ment could only help make the Caps an at­trac­tive op­tion for young play­ers.

“We are into train­ing camp and have a ton of midget kids, and they see this stuff,” said McIver. “They see what’s hap­pen­ing, they see the op­por­tu­ni­ties that guys are get­ting who are com­ing through our pro­gram. It’s a feather in our cap.

“At times we don’t want to think we are a devel­op­ment team and a devel­op­ment league, but the re­al­ity is we are, and the proof is in the num­bers with our pro­gram. We are ex­tremely proud of that.”

McIver said there are many rea­sons for the suc­cess in de­vel­op­ing young play­ers, in­clud­ing prac­tis­ing four times a week.

“I firmly be­lieve it starts from the top down, and the coaches are do­ing a great job with the younger guys, and even the older guys. For ex­am­ple, take Tan­ner McCabe’s game the last two years. He’s a pro hockey player now, and you couldn’t have said that five years ago when he started out with us.”

McIver added he feels the Caps’ fan base, lo­ca­tion and Credit Union Place also make the Caps at­tractable.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Brodie MacArthur, cen­tre, will play for the Monc­ton Wild­cats of the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League this sea­son.

JA­SON SIM­MONDS/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

For­ward Marc-An­dre LeCouffe, left, and goalie Matt Wil­liams played with the Sum­mer­side D. Alex Mac­Don­ald Ford Western Cap­i­tals in the 2016-17 Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League sea­son.

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