It was a buffer, an opportunity for a playoff slip-up. And suddenly, it
wasn’t there anymore.
In December 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the Summerside Western
Capitals were unveiled as hosts of the 2022 Fred Page Cup, the East Region
With that tournament in mind, and through a lost 2020-21 season, Western
Capitals general manager Pat McIver and head coach Bill McGuigan worked to
build a team that could compete with the best in Eastern Canada and earn a
place at the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons.
But as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the game from coast to
coast to coast, a decision was made in March to cancel the regional
championships and invite all nine league champions from across the Canadian
Junior Hockey League to the Centennial Cup.
Suddenly, Summerside had only one way to Estevan – by winning the Maritime
Hockey League (MHL).
“We didn't have the room for errors,” McGuigan says. “And I think from the
player standpoint, it was a little bit of a letdown. But I think once they
got over the disappointment, they understood that if we win a Maritime
Hockey League title … we go straight to the nationals.”
The decision to cancel the Fred Page Cup was announced March 22, two days
after the Western Capitals closed out a successful regular season;
Summerside topped the MHL standings at 31-4-2 and closed its campaign with
just a single regulation-time loss in its last 11.
The offence led the way, with Western Capitals scored a league-high 206
goals – 50 more than any other team – and claiming four of the top five
spots in the MHL scoring race, led by Colby McArthur, who joined his older
brother Brodie (2018-19, 2019-20) as a league scoring champion.
When the postseason began, it was more of the same. Summerside rolled
through Edmundston in five games, swept past Fredericton and downed Truro
in the MHL final, losing just two games – both in overtime – to claim a
fifth Maritime title and punch its ticket to Estevan.
In the end, there was no slip-up, no blip, no stumble. Exactly how the
Western Capitals drew it up.
“At the start of the season, we developed a little bit of a theme – we
called it the Hard Way. And the Hard Way was winning the Maritime Hockey
League to go into the Fred Page Cup as winners, then winning the Fred Page
Cup and going to the nationals as winners. That is how we went about it.
“Here we are now with less than a week to go. We're looking forward to it.
The guys are excited and happy.”
Summerside opens its
Centennial Cup schedule against the Northern Ontario Hockey League champions, the Soo Thunderbirds,
on May 20.
HOW THEY GOT TO ESTEVAN
Maritime Hockey League
Quarterfinal: defeated Edmundston 4-1 (4-2, 3-4 2OT, 7-4, 5-2, 4-0)
Semifinal: defeated Fredericton 4-0 (4-2, 4-1, 6-4, 4-3 2OT)
MHL championship: defeated Truro 4-1 (4-0, 6-2, 1-2 OT, 5-1, 4-1)
Record (W-L-OTL): 31-4-3 (1st in MHL)
Goals for: 206 (1st in MHL)
Goals against: 101 (1st in MHL)
Power play: 43 for 132 (32.6% – 1st in MHL)
Penalty killing: 111 of 139 (79.9% – 7th in MHL)
Longest winning streak: 14 (Oct. 13-Nov. 20)
Top 3 scorers:
• Colby MacArthur – 18G 57A 75P (1st in MHL)
• Thomas Lacombe – 28G 32A 60P (3rd in MHL)
• Josh MacDonald – 31G 28A 59P (4th in MHL)
Goals for: 61
Goals against: 28
Power play: 12 for 42 (28.6%)
Penalty killing: 33 of 40 (82.5%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Aaron Brown – 7G 17A 24P
• Jacob Stewart – 13G 6A 19P
• Colby MacArthur – 8G 11A 19P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
1989 – Summerside Western Capitals | runner-up | 3-2 | 17GF 20GA
1997 – Summerside Western Capitals | national champions | 3-3 | 22GF 25GA
2009 – Summerside Western Capitals | fifth place | 1-3 | 15GF 17GA
2013 – Summerside Western Capitals | runner-up | 3-3 | 18GF 16GA
Colby McArthur – Union College (2022-23)
CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS
Oct. 4 – 10th
Oct. 11 – not ranked
Oct. 18 – 17th
Oct. 25 – 8th
Nov. 1 – 3rd
Nov. 8 – 2nd
Nov. 15 – 2nd
Nov. 22 – 2nd
Nov. 29 – 2nd
Dec. 6 – 2nd
Dec. 13 – 2nd
Dec. 20 – 2nd
Feb. 7 – 2nd
Feb. 14 – 2nd
Feb. 21 – 4th
Feb. 28 – 4th
March 7 – 3rd
March 14 – 3rd
March 21 – 3rd