NEW GLASGOW – Three wins and you’re in.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Weeks Major Midgets forward Michael Stuart, right, is shown during Friday night's game against the Halifax McDonalds. Weeks feel 2-1 to Halifax at the Wellness Centre.
The Halifax McDonalds 2-1 win over the Weeks Major Midgets on Friday night punched their ticket to Sunday’s championship game of the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championship.
Had Halifax lost that wouldn’t have been the case, as multiple scenarios would’ve come into play on Saturday, but now the only remaining round-robin game with any meaning is Weeks’ game against the Saint John Vitos. The winner of the 12:30 p.m. game on Saturday plays Halifax again, with the victor advancing to the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw, Sask. from April 21-27.
Luc Poirier led the McDonalds in their win over Weeks with a goal and an assist, while Justin Ritcey (2-0) made 20 stops for his second win of the tournament.
Luke Melanson (1-1) made 27 saves in goal. His teammate Mark Vokey scored the lone Weeks goal, his fourth of the tournament and seventh point in three games.
Pictou County got into a lot of penalty trouble in the first period, starting with back-to-back minors. Blair Dewtie went to the box for slashing 4:02 into the game and just after his penalty expired Lucas Sangster went to the sin bin for tripping.
Melanson was only able to help kill one of the two off as Halifax’s Poirier capitalized on the second advantage, scoring 10 seconds into the power play.
Weeks then got a power play of their own. They couldn’t get an equalizer before heading back to the box. Lucas Holman and Lane Cormier each took separate minors as the Pictou County squad was shorthanded for nearly four straight minutes again.
Halifax took the final penalty of the period, but they killed it off as Weeks went 0-2 and the McDonalds went 1-4 on the power play in the penalty-filled period.
Halifax’s Dillon Boucher gave his team a 2-0 lead at the 7:12 mark of the second period, scoring their second power play goal of the game during the second half of Melanson’s four-minute head contact penalty. Weeks got into more penalty trouble midway through the period, but killed Cormier and Sangster’s minors again.
Ethan Marsh and Jordan Bezanson got in on the penalty trouble, but again Weeks couldn’t capitalize.
Vokey did score just 29 seconds after Bezanson got back on the ice to cut the lead in half.
In the final minute of play Halifax was pressing offensively and with just over 30 seconds remaining in the period was deep in the Weeks zone. Defenceman Connor MacLaughlin took a few high hits, which went uncalled. One hit cause him to be down for approximately 10 seconds, but he got back up until the horn went to end the period.
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- Weeks Midgets prove naysayers wrong
- Vitos bounce back with win over Kensington, face Weeks Saturday
- Weeks Midgets open with back-to-back wins
“I just tried to keep my cool the best I could and just try to be there for the guys and not take any shifts off,” he said about the hits at the end of the second. “It’s just what you have to do for the team (continuing to play). It’s not what you’re doing for yourself, but for the team.”
Neither team scored in the third, although both had their chances.
“We knew they were up by one, so we knew we had to come out strong and physical and try to throw pucks on net,” said MacLaughlin.
Halifax killed off the only penalty of the period, as it seemed the referees had met their penalty quota for the night. Fans for both teams were screaming multiple times throughout the period for calls, but nothing came.
Although they know they need to win to advance, Weeks feels good right now knowing that they have had a strong start to the weekend. Being the host there are always question marks about the ability to be competitive, but MacLaughlin said they’re proud of their effort so far.
“It (start to the tournament) shows that we’re never going to give up, never say die and really shows the character within the team,” he said. “Against Saint John we just need to come out strong, maybe get a quick one and just have them on their heals for the whole game.”
He hopes his first experience at Atlantics is far from over, but so far MacLaughlin has loved every minute of it.
“I love it,” he said. “You have nervous pre-game jitters before the game and you just get out there and feel natural like any other game. It’s a great feeling.”
9 a.m. Kensington (P.E.I.) vs. Central (N.L.)
12:30 p.m. Weeks (host) vs. Saint John (N.B.)
3:30 p.m. Central (N.L.) vs. Halifax (N.S.)