Kensington ready for first Atlantics since move from Cornwall
KENSINGTON – A rough start to the Kensington Wild’s season has been long forgotten after winning the P.E.I. championship to punch their ticket to Atlantics.
© JASON SIMMONDS - TC MEDIA
Forward Sam Jay, 16, led the Kensington Wild in scoring during the regular season. Here, Jay considers his options while being defended by Seth Filmore of the Fredericton Canadiens during a New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League regular-season game at Community Gardens in Kensington.
Starting out the season with a 2-8 record the team was looking to turn the corner and have better results according to head coach Mark Carragher. It was in November at the Monctonian tournament that he felt things turned around for their group, breaking out of their early rut.
“With our group and the way it works we have a lot of players on the team that have never played with each other before because we pick from such a wide area of P.E.I. for our team,” said Carragher. “I think that was the biggest challenge was getting everyone to buy in together and start playing as a team.
“We had a good tournament there (Monctonian) and then we were one of the top teams in the league for the rest of the year, so getting off to that slow start was probably our biggest challenge.”
Kensington (formerly Cornwall Superior Thunder) finished fifth overall in the N.B./P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League with a 14-17-4 record, 16 points ahead of the rival Charlottetown Islanders. With the league splitting at the end of the season for their respective provincial championships the Wild knew what to expect out of the Islanders.
“There is a lot more pressure on that series for us because at the end of the day that’s what we’re playing for is that series against Charlottetown to win a provincial title and get a chance to go to the Atlantics,” said Carragher. “We try not to change too much. Both teams knew each other pretty well and what to expect. We had a game plan going in and were just trying to stick to that.”
Kensington got past Charlottetown 4-2 in their series, capping of their provincial championship with a 3-2 victory over the Islanders on March 12. Carragher said it’s slightly tough having such a long layoff until Atlantics and that the team loses some of their high of winning the provincial title, but the final preparations are used to spark the team again.
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“We went through this last year with the long layoff and we had some success at the start of the Atlantics last year,” he said. “We’re trying to implement a lot of the things we did last year into this year. Basically we want to do as many game-like situations in practice, trying to keep things high intensity and make sure the conditioning is there.”
They open the tournament Thursday at 1 p.m. against the Halifax McDonalds before an 8 p.m. game with the host Weeks Major Midgets.
“It’s tough to play two games in a day to start, so that’s why we’ve been working them hard all practice to make sure the conditioning is there,” he said. “It’s not the first time we’re going to play two games in one day, so our team knows what to expect and will be ready for it.
Carragher said he feels his team is balanced and doesn’t rely on any specific players, although he pointed to Sam Jay as being one of their go-to guys this season.
Bailey Webster was amongst the top defencemen in the league all season and was called up to the Saint John Sea Dogs a few times.
Both goalies, Bradley Shea and Cameron Visser, will get a start in goal on Thursday.