NEW GLASGOW – The Kensington Wild have still not won against the Halifax McDonalds this season.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Kensington Wild forward Michael Evoy carries the puck into Halifax McDonalds territory during the opening game of the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championship Thursday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
In their most important meeting of the year, the opening of the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championships, the McDonalds defeated the Wild 3-1.
Morgan Nauss’ third period goal stood up as the game-winning goal as three different McDonalds players scored to defeat the P.E.I. champions.
Ethan Marsh opened the scoring for Halifax 4:10 into the first period, putting the puck past Bradley Shea on a breakaway.
Halifax’s next goal didn’t come until 59 seconds into the third when Nauss scored on the McDonalds third power play opportunity.
The Wild answered just 1:58 later with Riley Gallant finally beating Justin Ritcey, who led the NSMMHL in the playoffs with a 1.22 GAA.
With 8:23 remaining in the third Jordan Bezanson gave Halifax an insurance marker.
Ritcey made 30 saves to open the tournament with a win, while Shea turned aside 42 in the loss.
“We usually box out pretty well and they let me see the puck, which is pretty important for me,” said Ritcey on his team’s play on Thursday. “I don’t have to make three or four saves when I can see the puck. I can just keep it and freeze it and get a whistle.
With the P.E.I. championship ending just under two weeks before the N.S. playoffs wrapped up there was definitely some struggles to start out for Kensington according to Wild defenceman Bailey Webster.
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“It definitely took a few shifts to get going after being off for a few weeks,” said Webster. “We’ve been training and practicing, but it definitely did take a few shifts just to get into it. When we got our legs we did good and we worked hard.”
Ritcey said they definitely benefitted in the first period from having a shorter break.
“We had not rust on us, so it helped us out in the start where they seemed a little off,” said Ritcey. “We played three rounds in playoffs, so we’re used to that kind of hockey. They only played one, so that may have helped us playing and not having such a big break.”
Now 1-0 to start the tournament, Halifax (N.S.) will take on the Saint John Vitos (N.B.). Ritcey said every game is important in a short tournament, but starting with a win on Thursday will make things easier as the weekend progresses.
“I think it’s huge and we talked about that right after practice the other night,” said Ritcey. “We said this is probably our biggest game of the tournament and if we get the win we’ll just let the ball keep rolling. It’s a big help when you get the first win instead of the first loss.”