The Home Stretch
A mid-season break can do a lot for a team looking to make a playoff push, win a championship or maybe hosting Atlantics in the second half of their season.
The first half may not be quite as important, but helps position the team for the playoffs and is crucial in helping to identify areas they need to work on both as individuals and as a whole. Looking to last year, the main Pictou County teams at the bantam, midget and junior level are ahead of or equal to where they were last season.
Starting with the Scotsburn Major Bantam Crushers they not only have double the number of wins they had at the break last year – with a 7-15-1 record compared to last season’s 3-15-4. They never had a second half win last season, but after watching a large number of games both last year and this year I believe things will continue to move in a positive direction and they will rack up the points like they did in the first half.
It’s worth noting that Campbell Burrows had four points last year with the team, but in his second season he has three goals and nine assists at the break thus far. Nolan Emery is third on the team this year in scoring with seven goals and eight assists, already, which tops his two-goal and six-assist output last season.
The 2014 Atlantic Midget Hockey Championship host Weeks Major Midgets have been under a lot of pressure this season to perform, but have turned it around as of late and have won three of their five games in December going into the break with a 7-19-1 record.
Last season they were 7-18-2 at the break, so they are just off where they were. Hosting Atlantics they will need to continue their upward slope on their learning curve, but there is no need to panic just yet.
Offensively, Mark Vokey continues to be the team’s leader with 15 goals and 20 assists in 25 games so far compared to his 34 game totals of 23 goals and 29 assists last year.
Cody Johnston has topped last year’s output of 22 points with 10 goals and 14 points so far this season, while captain Lane Cormier has 22 points in 12 games, which is on pace for more than last season when he had 34 points in 34 games.
The Pictou County Scotians have played a few less games at the halfway point of this campaign, but compared to a 10-12-1 record they’re 10-8-2 so far. With a new addition in goal and some possible defencemen coming in they should be competitive, especially when it comes to playoff time. Brandon Verge led the league with 36 goals and 26 assists last season for 62 points in 32 games, while this season he is one point from being atop the league again with 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points.
The biggest difference at the break comes from the Weeks junior A Crushers who are 22-4-4 this season, seven wins better than their 15-12-5 record at the Christmas break just a season ago.
A team that is looking for, at minimum, a Kent Cup title, they have shown they are the team to beat so far this season, atop the MHL standings with eight more points than the Dieppe Commandos and Truro Bearcats at this point. They lead the league in goals-for and have the least number of goals-against in the league so far, with 130 for and 75 against.
The trade deadline for both junior teams is Jan. 10, so both teams could find ways to improve their rosters, although the way the Crushers are looking so far they likely don’t need too much more.
Overall Pictou County squads had a good first half, but with big goals for where they want to go there is still lots of work to be done.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.