They didn’t achieve their goal of reaching the RBC Cup as league and regional champions, but that could provide the Summerside Western Capitals with a little extra motivation when the puck drops to open Canada’s National Junior A Championship.
After cruising to a Maritime Hockey League championship, Summerside fell twice in three days to the Truro Bearcats at the Fred Page Cup, including a double overtime loss to its MHL rivals in the championship game.
“We now know what it’s like to be on both sides of winning and losing a championship,” Western Capitals captain Scott Trask told the Summerside Journal Pioneer. “Hopefully, it will give us a little more energy and push.”
Summerside was the class of the MHL in the regular season, finishing with a massive 22-point lead over the Woodstock Slammers for the Meek Division lead, and seven points up on Truro for first in the league.
The RBC Cup hosts finished the season on a remarkable run, winning 24 of their final 25 games from Dec. 9 on, the lone loss coming to Woodstock on Feb. 1. They held a top-five spot in the CJHL national rankings for much of the season, coming in at No. 3 in the final poll of the year.
The Western Capitals’ hot streak continued in the postseason – they swept the Miramichi Timberwolves and Woodstock before a five-game win over the Bearcats gave Summerside its third MHL title in five years.
Their lone playoff defeat was a double-overtime setback in Game 2 against Truro, leaving the Western Capitals with just a single regulation time loss in 36 games entering the Fred Page Cup.
Summerside opened the regional tournament with wins over Cornwall and Longueuil, as did the host Bearcats, setting up an all-MHL showdown for first place.
Truro got the upper hand in the preliminary round finale, getting the bye into the final, but a semifinal win by the Western Capitals, 1-0 in overtime over Cornwall, ensured another all-Maritime match-up, this time with the regional title on the line.
Despite the fact both teams were already assured of RBC Cup berths, both teams played as if it were Game 7 with everything up for grabs.
A one-goal Bearcats lead became a one-goal Summerside advantage before Truro tied it midway through the third period, forcing overtime for the third time in six games between the teams.
In the end, it would take double overtime before the Bearcats scored the winner, keeping the Western Capitals from becoming the third RBC Cup host team in four years to win league and regional titles.
“Obviously losing in double overtime, how hard we worked for that game and get that outcome, right now we’re pretty down,” said Trask after the loss. “We wanted to go to the RBC the hard way and earn our way there. We won the league and were hoping to win (the Fred Page Cup), but we didn’t get there. But right now we just have to forget about that and get ready for RBC.”
Even though a host team has not won Canada’s National Junior A Championship since Weyburn in 2005, history is on the side of the Western Capitals. Summerside has hosted the tournament twice previously, and on both occasions the hometown team has reached the final, winning the national title in 1997.
HOW THEY GOT TO SUMMERSIDE
Maritime Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Miramichi 4-0 (4-2, 2-1, 8-2, 5-3)
Semifinal: defeated Woodstock 4-0 (5-1, 5-2, 6-2, 5-1)
MHL championship: defeated Truro 4-1 (4-3, 3-4 2OT, 3-2, 3-2 2OT, 3-0)
Fred Page Cup
Preliminary round: 2-1 – 2nd place (defeated Cornwall 1-0, defeated Longueuil 4-1, lost to Truro 3-2)
Semifinal: defeated Cornwall 1-0 OT
Final: lost to Truro 3-2 2OT
Regular Season Record: 43-7-2 (1st in MHL)
Goals For: 222 (2nd in MHL)
Goals Against: 119 (1st in MHL)
Power Play: 23.9% (3rd in MHL)
Penalty Killing: 87.3% (1st in MHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 15 (Dec. 9-Jan. 27)
Top 3 Scorers:
Playoff Record: 15-3
Goals For: 66
Goals Against: 32
Power Play: 26.2% MHL / 10.5% Fred Page Cup
Penalty Killing: 78.1% MHL / 95.2% Fred Page Cup
Top 3 Scorers:
NATIONAL JUNIOR A CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2009 – Summerside Western Capitals | 5th place | 1-3 | 15GF 17GA
1997 – Summerside Western Capitals | national champions | 3-3 | 22GF 25GA
1989 – Summerside Western Capitals | runners-up | 3-2 | 17GF 20GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
traditional butterfly goaltender … high level of technical proficiency … makes good decisions … moves well post to post … quick legs … stays big even when down … good rebound control
threat to score at all times … very good poise with the puck … smart player … talented passer … great instincts … rarely hesitates with the puck … makes quick decisions … dangerous on the PP
power winger … provides leadership … strong work ethic … knows how to win … solid two-way player … protects the puck well … quick hands … quick release … good offensive instincts