MOUNT WILLIAM – The season hasn’t even started yet and the Pictou County Crushers are banged up.
The Crushers will open their Maritime Hockey League season at home Thursday against the Valley Wildcats without key players Jacob Hickey (out up to six weeks with a shoulder injury after getting into a fight last weekend against the Truro Bearcats), and Jake Martin (out indefinitely with an upper body issue).
“Those are two key guys with injuries,” said coach Doug Doull.
“It’s a next-man-up mentality. There are some guys who are going to have to raise their games for us, young guys will be getting a really good opportunity to step in.”
Losing a potential 30-plus goal scorer (Hickey potted 28 goals last year, to go along with 23 assists) for any length of time isn’t the best of news for Pictou County, but they have little choice other than to play the cards they’ve been dealt.
“Hickey’s definitely highly relied on for us, but hopefully we’ll fill his shoes while he’s getting better,” said Evan MacLennan, one of the veterans who is expected to be a key leader for the Crushers this season.
“When he comes back, we’ll be happy to have him for sure.”
The Crushers seem anxious to put training camp and their pre-season games behind them and let the real bullets start to fly.
“There’s just a big itch to get that first game started,” MacLennan said. “You always want to get that first win to get rolling, you don’t want to start the season off on the downslope. The fans want to see us win, and we want to win for them.”
Optimism runs rampant at this time of the year; at lot of things went wrong last season as they missed the playoffs for the first time in Crusher history, but the Crushers are working with a clean slate and feel they’ll be icing a competitive team.
General manager/assistant coach Chad McDavid said they have a solid team “on paper” starting out and the players see good things ahead.
“I think we’ll have a good season,” said forward Dylan Riley, who had 52 points (22G, 30A) in 51 games last season.
“I think once we get our boots moving we’ll be alright. Once everyone buys in, we’ll be a top-end team in this league.”
Matt Normore is expected to start in goal for the Crushers.
Roster for the 2018-19 Weeks Junior A Crushers:
FORWARDS: Dylan Riley, Jacob Hickey, Evan MacLennan, Jake Martin, Jaden Mason, Cam Scott, Evan Gallant, Barrett Dachyshyn, Isaac Chapman, Mason Hawley, Tyler Hutchinson, Brayden Ryan, Malcolm MacEachern, Chad Wilson.
DEFENCE: Aiden Hickey, Michael Fradette, Aleck Forcier, Callum Bouma, Malcom Genge, Rayan MacLennan, Harry Sanders.
GOALTENDER: Matt Normore, Sean Julien.