The Charlottetown, P. E. I., Abbies hope to be legitimate qualifiers for the Royal Bank Cup national junior A hockey championship May 3-11 on home ice.
Charlottetown has taken a huge step towards its objective by winning its second Maritime Junior ‘A’ Hockey League championship in five years.
“We lost the first game of the final, at home,” said Charlottetown head coach Jeff Squires. “That was a wakeup final.
“We became a determined team. We had to face adversity.”
Charlottetown had a 12-4 playoff record, including a perfect seven wins in seven games away from home, to advance to the Fred Page Cup championship April 23-27 in Cornwall, Ont.
The Central Junior Hockey League champion Nepean, Ont., Raiders, la Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec champion Cougars de Lennoxville and the Cornwall Colts of the CJHL will also play for the Fred Page Cup.
Francis Walker, whose playing rights were transferred from the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the CJHL at the Jan. 10 Canadian Hockey Association signing deadline, has been among Charlottetown’s playoff heroes.
Walker led league playoff scorers with 17 assists and 26 points in 16 games. He has 47 goals, 71 assists and 118 points in 67 games overall.
“Francis was a great addition at the deadline,” said Squires. “He was the league most valuable player in the playoffs.
“He is the reason our power play improved so much. We operated at 30 per cent efficiency on the power play.”
Walker, who normally plays between left winger Steve Yetman and right winger Rob Chapman, has Royal Bank Cup experience with the 2002 CJHL champion Ottawa Senators. He had 54 assists and 92 points in 51 regular-season games with Pembroke and Charlottetown.
Veteran Clement Arsenault is Charlottetown’s second leading scorer with 49 goals and 98 points in 65 games overall. Arsenault, who celebrates his 21st birthday today, was second in the league with 38 goals and was third in the league with 81 points in 49 games during the regular schedule.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Arsenault led league playoff scorers with 11 goals and tied for fourth among league playoff scorers with 17 points in 16 games.
“He competes very well,” said Squires. “He shoots the puck hard and is a prototypical power forward.”
Chapman, 21, has 57 assists and 86 points in 62 games overall. He was third with 18 points, including nine goals, in 14 playoff games.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Chapman was fourth in the league with 48 assists and was ninth in the league with 68 points in 48 regular-season games.
“Rob is good in the corners,” said Squires. “He’s good at passing the puck to players in the neutral zone.”
Charlottetown was first in the Roger Meek Division, and overall, at 43-5-1 and three overtime losses during the regular schedule. The Abbies led the league with 130 goals allowed and were fourth in the league with 229 goals scored.
The playoff performance puts Charlottetown at 55-9-1 and three overtime losses in 68 games overall.
Goalie Cory Roberts is a leading reason for the outstanding defensive effort.
Roberts led the league and Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League with a 35-7-1 won-lost-tied record in 2,540 minutes during the regular schedule. He led the league and was second in the CJAHL with a .928 saves percentage, led the league with a 2.24 goals against average and four shutouts.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Roberts has a 2.38 goals against average, leads the CJAHL with a 47-11-1 won-lost-tied record and has four shutouts in 3,525 minutes overall.
“He is a storybook success story,” said Squires. “The bigger the game, the more he contributes. He met the challenge when he had to.”
Squires stresses that Roberts has significant support because of Charlottetown’s system.
“We play good team defence,” said Squires. “We don’t blow teams out. The guys keep the puck to the outside.”
Charlottetown has allowed 176 goals overall as it prepares for Nepean, Lennoxville and Cornwall.
The Fred Page Cup champion will qualify for the Royal Bank Cup. The tournament finalist will advance to the national championship if Charlottetown wins the Fred Page Cup.
Please check the CJAHL web site at www.cjahl.com for all your Canadian junior A information
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