First coaching change highlights week in MHL
It didn’t take long for the first coach to fall in the Maritime Hockey League. After beginning the season with a 3-4-0-1 record, the Summerside Western Capitals dipped into their past, replacing outgoing coach Tim Schurman with former bench boss during their RBC Cup run Billy McGuigan. McGuigan returns after spending one season as an assistant coach with the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League.
The week began with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers defeating the Amherst Ramblers 6-3 in front of 1,046 fans at the Pictou County Wellness Centre Thursday night. Former Screaming Eagle and Sherbrooke Phoenix forward Cole Murphy led the Crushers with a goal and three helpers, while newly acquired Ryan Caswell scored a goal and chipped in an assist in the effort.
Friday night would see three games take place. The first would finish with the Truro Bearcats defeating the Bridgewater Lumberjacks 3-1 in Bridgewater. Alex Soumakis led the Bearcats with a pair of goals while Jacob Fancy turned aside 32 Lumberjacks shots in the win. In Woodstock, the Slammers would pull out a win against the Yarmouth Mariners by a score of 3-2. Matt Jenkins stopped 21 shots in the win while Brandon Parsons would score the game winning goal, his fifth tally of the year. The final game of the night was the Campbellton Tigers defeating the Western Capitals 4-3 in overtime. Robert Pelletier would score his third goal of the season in overtime to seal the win for the Tigers.
Saturday night began with the Valley Wildcats defeating the Bridgewater Lumberjacks 3-2 in overtime at the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick. Former Screaming Eagle Grant Janes would net the overtime winner with under a minute remaining in the extra session. The Yarmouth Mariners would get back in the win column by defeating the St. Stephen County Aces 6-3 in St. Stephen. Charles Poulin netted a pair of goals with Rowan O’Brien stopping 19 shots in the win for the Mariners. The Dieppe Commandos would travel to Amherst and take on the Ramblers, and led by a five goal second period they would defeat the struggling Rams 6-3. Lindon Beckwith led the Commandos with a goal and two assists while Lucas Batt was the Rams top player, with a goal and an assist. The fourth game of the evening would be a rematch of the Eastlink Division Final between the Truro Bearcats and the Weeks Crushers. The teams would trade goals all night, with both teams holding leads, before the Crushers would take the game in a shootout. Ryan Caswell scored a pair for the Crushers with Alex Soumakis having a one goal, one assist effort for the Bearcats. Finally, the Miramichi Timberwolves would extend their winning streak to eight games by defeating the Summerside Western Capitals 5-1. Tyler Brown would net a pair of goals with Alex Collette stopping 27 shots. Brad Power would reply for the only Summerside tally.
Sunday afternoon would feature three games on the schedule. The first would be in Summerside, with Billy McGuigan earning his first win since returning, as the Capitals defeated the Campbellton Tigers 4-3. Blaize Bridges would net a goal with two helpers for the Caps, while Malik Johnson and Eddie Banville would produce the same numbers for the Tigers. Alex Kelly turned aside 33 shots for his first win of the season. The Dieppe Commandos would end the winning streak of the Timberwolves in Dieppe, defeating Miramichi 3-2. Team captain Ryan Langan scored a pair of goals and adding an assist in the win. Marc Terriault stopped 22 shots in the win for Dieppe. In the final game of the week, the Amherst Ramblers would defeat the Valley Wildcats 4-2 in Berwick. Lucas Batt scored a pair of goals for the Ramblers, while Josh Worthen and the newly acquired Adam Chapman replied for the Wildcats. Kyle Michalovsky stopped 38 shots for the Ramblers.
Following the games this week, the Woodstock Slammers hold first place in both the Meek Division and the MHL with a 12-1 record. The Weeks Crushers hold down top spot in the Eastlink Division, with a five point lead over both the Truro Bearcats and Valley Wildcats.
The scoring race is really starting to heat up, with a lot of players showing big totals to start the season. Robbie Graham of the Dieppe Commandos leads the league with 24 points in 11 games. Jordan McNaughton from Truro leads the league in points by defenseman, with 20 points in 14 contests.
Action this week begins with a rare Wednesday night contest, as the Campbellton Tigers travel to St. Stephen to take on the Aces.