Weeks expect to be competitive as Atlantics hosts

Christopher Cameron
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Hometown squad opens Atlantics tonight against Kensington

NEW GLASGOW – With just over six weeks since the Weeks Major Midgets have played a game there will likely be some cobwebs tonight against Kensington.

Weeks Major Midgets forward Doug Barton looks for the puck under Newbridge Gladiators goaltender Aaron Mantle during Game 6 of their NSMMHL playoff series in February. Weeks play host to the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championship at the Wellness Centre beginning today.

There are a lot of different things to think about as the team hosts the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championships at the Wellness Centre beginning today. The team is both thinking about the fact that they haven’t played in an extended period of time after falling 4-2 in their first-round playoff series with the Newbridge Gladiators and that there will be some nerves that come with being the host team.

“I thought we gave Dartmouth a good run and the last game could’ve gone either way, but at the end of the day they won and ended up losing in the final to Halifax,” said Weeks head coach Dave MacIntyre. “What we tried to do was get the guys to use it as motivation. We still want to be the team that no one wants to play, which was our goal coming down the stretch after Christmas. I think winning eight out of 11 games after losing 14 to 18 in the first half was a testament that the guys turned it around. I think they still have that mindset and I think they have something to prove.”

MacIntyre said that he’s just encouraging the team to get the first shift under their belt before doing too much. He said he wants them to keep it simple until they get comfortable again in a game situation.

Over the last number of weeks their practices have been up-tempo according to MacIntyre, focusing on game-like situations, as well as their neutral and defensive zone coverage. He added they’ve also been mixing their practices up to make sure none of the players get complacent in doing the same things.

“We did have a couple scrimmages, which was neat,” said MacIntyre. “We organized some older guys that have played the game at a high level, are still playing and are from around here to come out and have a scrimmage with the midgets to try to get the guys back into thinking like a game.

“We played a few scrimmages like that to break up the practices because other than that you can’t play any games.”

Tonight at 8 p.m. Weeks host the Kensington Wild after the opening ceremonies, which begin at 7:30 p.m. In their only meeting this season the Wild won 5-2 at the Monctonian on Nov. 14.

The loss came in the midst of a 13-game losing skid for Weeks, which ended just a week later. Since then the team turned things around winning nine of their 14 remaining regular season games.

“I think that’s what it was, was everyone finally bought in together and worked as a unit,” said MacIntyre. “If I can say, everyone asks about – well you have (Mark) Vokey, (Lane) Cormier, (Lucas) Sangster, (Matt) Sartoris and your goaltending was strong at the end – but the buy-in I look at are the guys that don’t get mentioned a lot, but really, really do deserve it. Guys like Connor MacLaughlin blocking shots, playing 30-some minutes a game against the top players and Lucas Holman it’s the same idea. These guys lay it on the line every game and maybe don’t put the points up or get the recognition, but are your blue-collar, hard-working guys that show up every night and give us a chance to win.”

With his group coming in as the host team there is an expectation that they will be the “underdog,” but MacIntyre welcomes that.

“From a personal standpoint that’s always been a – you always like to be called an underdog because it gives you that motivation to prove people wrong,” he said. “We want to come out and surprise teams, that we do deserve to be here and prove that we do deserve to be in this tournament. Our goal is to win the tournament. I said to these guys that there’s no reason why we cannot win.”

 

Notes:

Matt Sartoris (New Glasgow) and Noah Archibald (Truro) were recently named to the team that will represent Nova Scotia at the 2014 QMJHL Excellence Challenge in May.

Mark Vokey was named MVP of the NSMMHL and finished one point back of being the league’s top scorer.

Captain Lane Cormier was a member of Team Atlantic at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Cape Breton in December.

Organizations: Wellness Centre, Newbridge Gladiators, Monctonian Team Atlantic World U-17 Hockey Challenge

Geographic location: Kensington, Dartmouth, New Glasgow Nova Scotia Cape Breton

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