Game day

Ju­nior A club starts reg­u­lar sea­son with game against Aces

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KEVIN ADSHADE THE NEWS

Crush­ers set to open new sea­son at home tonight against the St. Stephen Aces of New Brunswick.

Their reg­u­lar sea­son suc­cess from a year ago is his­tory.

So too, is their quick play­off exit.

The Crush­ers open their reg­u­lar sea­son Thurs­day against the St. Stephen Aces, with 11 re­turnees from a team that dom­i­nated the Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League reg­u­lar sea­son.

“I don’t like to make pre­dic­tions,” head coach Doug Doull said on Wed­nes­day, just be­fore they held a fi­nal prac­tice be­fore the cur­tain rises on the 2017-18 sea­son.

“But our di­vi­sion is go­ing to be a five- or six-car pileup. It’s like I tell the guys: it’s the be­gin­ning of a jour­ney here, and just fo­cus on the task at hand. And the task at hand is to pre­pare ev­ery day, and get bet­ter ev­ery day.”

The Crush­ers suf­fered just nine losses in their 50-game sched­ule last sea­son – the MHL’s best record – but were ousted in a Game 7 against the Amherst Ram­blers in the first round of the play­offs. It was a bit­ter end­ing for a team that held high ex­pec­ta­tions for it­self.

“It’s still on a lot of the guy’s minds a lit­tle bit,” said cen­tre Michael Dill, who won the MHL scor­ing ti­tle with 90 points (32G, 58A) last sea­son. “But I think we can learn from that and use it as fuel for the sea­son com­ing up.”

Dill de­scribed the early-sea­son ver­sion of the Crush­ers as be­ing “young and fast. I think we’ll be a hard team to play against.”

The Aces made the play­offs for the first time in team his­tory last sea­son, be­fore be­ing swept in the first round of the play­offs by the Mi­ramichi Tim­ber­wolves.

Dill was named team cap­tain on Wed­nes­day night. His as­sis­tant cap­tains are Alex Bon­a­parte, Ja­cob Hickey and new­comer Dono­van Re­hill.

“Michael is our on-ice leader and he’s de­vel­oped into a highly re­spected guy in our dress­ing room. He was one of the few bright spots (in the play­offs last year) and his time to lead is now,” said Doull.

Bon­a­parte is one of the few Crush­ers still re­main­ing from the 2016 league cham­pi­onship squad, and be­lieves his team will be a con­tender once again.

“I’m ex­cited for the new sea­son,” he said.

“I feel like we’ve added a few pieces, along with the guys com­ing back that we feel con­fi­dent with. We’re ex­cited to get things go­ing.”

Notes

Luke Me­lan­son will start in goal against the Aces ... new Crush­ers for­ward Leo Mi­halochri­tas has a last name so long that it won’t fit on the back of his jer­sey. For that rea­son, his sur­name has been —un­of­fi­cially — short­ened to ‘Mi­halo’… the Crush­ers are at Amherst on Satur­day night, their lone game this week­end.

“Michael is our on-ice leader and he’s de­vel­oped into a highly re­spected guy in our dress­ing room. He was one of the few bright spots (in the play­offs last year) and his time to lead is now.” Doug Doull

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