Certainly fast and spectacular games and where the winner will probably be the one who makes the least mistakes.
The Summerside Western Capitals and the Edmundston Blizzard passed their first test with success in the first round, with Summerside winning in five and Blizzard in four.
The Blizzard (36-10-4-0) finished first overall with 76 points. The Western Capitals (33-16-1-0), who were next to the Blizzard in the division, finished third overall with 67 points.
The islanders will come to the Jean-Daigle Centre without any complex on Saturday. They are counting on a devastating attack that has outrageously dominated this season. The Capitals are the only team to averaged more than four goals per game (213 goals in 50 games). They also rely on two strong goalies who have a lot of experience and who arrived a little later in the season to transform the team. Dominik Tmej (17-2, 2.06) has played 30 games in the QMJHL, while Alex Bishop (8-4, 2.40) has played 102. And the Capitals are also counting on a pair of outstanding defensemen in Jordan Spence (13g, 39a – 52pts) and Jesse Annear (6g, 34a – 40pts).
The Blizzard’s defense will need to watch closely the league’s two best scorers, TJ Shea (43g, 62a – 105pts) and Brodie MacArthur (29g, 60a – 89pts).
If the Western Capitals are a powerful threat, they can sometimes be erratic. This is where Ryan Salvis’s men will have to take advantage of their chances.
As for the Blizzard, it was certainly the most consistent team of the MHL this season, managing to be among the top 20 teams in the country for 21 weeks out of 22 in the weekly standings compilation.
Blizzard’s success this season is based on its defensive performance first thanks to experienced defensemen who are not afraid to put their nose in the traffic. Alexandre Bernier, Alex Lavoie, Nolan Alward and Tristan Mercure led the troop along with rookies Dominic Hachey, Justin Lush and Keenan Gillis. The arrival of Marc Gallie will certainly consolidate the defensive unit.
On offense, the Blizzard also scares all opposing defenses. It counts on two explosive lines. The Western Capitals will have their hands full with Logan Johnston (25g, 40a – 65pts), Alexandre Jacob (16g, 47a – 63pts) and Kyle Ward (31g, 16a – 47pts) who had an excellent first round against Miramichi. And the constant effort of the other Blizzard forwards will give headaches to the opposing defensemen.
Goalkeepers Francis Asselin (2.60) and Myles Hektor (2.57) held the fort throughout the season. No weakness on this side.
An aspect the Blizzard hopes to correct will be at the start of the games. In all four games of the previous series, the Blizzard gave the first goal. Catch-up hockey will be more difficult against Summerside.
Players on both teams will have to avoid the penalty box as they finished 1st (Summerside, 25.6%) and 2nd(Edmundston, 24.4%) in the league.
During the regular season, the Blizzard dominated the meetings against Summerside, with a record of 4 wins and 2 losses. Edmundston won the first four games before the holidays. With goalkeeper Dominik Tmej joining the Capitals, the Blizzard was beaten 4-0 (January 25) and 5-1 (February 8) in Summerside.
Here is the complete schedule.
1. Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 pm in Edmundston
2. Sunday, April 1 at 7:30 pm in Edmundston
3. Tuesday, April 3 at 7:00 pm in Summerside
4. Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00 pm in Summerside
5. Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm in Edmundston (if necessary)
6. Monday, April 9 at 7:00 pm in Summerside (if necessary)
7. Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 pm in Edmundston (if necessary)
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Contact: Hugues Chiasson, vice-president communications – The Edmundston Blizzard; (506) 740-0623 – cell phone