Junior A club starts regular season with game against Aces
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.”
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