Jacob Hickey admits he felt a sense of relief.
The 20-year-old forward from Hammonds Plains, N.S., scored his first goal in six MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) post-season games with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals on Tuesday night.
“It felt awesome to get the monkey off my back a bit,” Hickey told the Journal Pioneer.
His unassisted tally 50 seconds into the second period gave the Caps a 2-1 lead, and proved to be the game-winning goal in a 4-1 road win over the Campbellton Tigers. The best-of-seven Eastlink North Division final series is now tied 1-1, with Game 3 is at Eastlink Arena in Summerside on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“We were all pretty relaxed,” said Hickey in describing how the Caps rebounded from dropping the series opener 2-0 in Summerside on Saturday night. “We knew what we had to do, and got the job done.”
Hickey, whose goal also marked his first point of the playoffs, admitted he was “feeling the pressure,” to contribute offensively. However, he acknowledged a conversation with head coach Billy McGuigan proved beneficial.
“Billy told me I just needed to relax, because the more pressure I put on myself the harder it is to score,” said Hickey. “Just playing a lot looser helped me out quite a bit.”
Hickey, who was acquired along with Dylan Riley in a trade with the Pictou County Crushers at the Jan. 10 roster deadline, registered five goals and five assists for 10 points in 22 regular-season games with the Caps. He had 27 points, including 12 goals, in 25 contests with the Crushers.
“He’s been a great player for us all along,” said McGuigan, who added Hickey “was excellent” in Game 2 against Campbellton. “He plays a good 200-foot game and he can score goals when he needs to.
“He’s kind of been a little snake-bitten since coming over from Pictou, but it’s these big games and moments that we need him, and he came through for us (Tuesday).”
Another positive, noted McGuigan, was how the Caps rebounded from a tough start.
“The second shift of the game we get scored against and are down 1-0, but we stayed disciplined and composed,” said McGuigan. “We know we have to stay disciplined in this series, and we did a good job of that.”
With the series featuring the MHL’s top two defensive teams in the regular season, it’s no surprise goals have been hard to come by.
“Their whole team is around playing good defence and playing hard on both sides of the puck,” continued McGuigan. “We knew it was going to be hard to score against them this series, and it hasn’t surprised us one little bit.”