Provincial champs begin defence of regional title Thursday
There have been few challenges for Wally Bray’s St. John’s Pennecon Privateers this season.
The Privateers rolled through the provincial major midget league in 2010-11, losing just one playoff game en route a ninth straight provincial title.
In November, at the Monctonian Challenge, they were runners-up, while at the Gatineau International Kiwanis tournament in early January, they dropped just one decision, that to eventual tourney champion Quebec.
This week, the Privateers are in Charlottetown, P.E.I., where they will defend their Atlantic major midget crown, and Bray knows the competition will be stiff.
Actually, he’s kind of counting on it.
“Hopefully, they’ll be the five hardest games we’ve played so far this year,” he says.
“To their credit, so far this year (the Privateers) seemed to step up when they get to the stronger competition and I can only hope that will happen again this weekend.”
The Privateers open the four-day, single round robin tourney against the Fredericton Canadiens Thursday at MacLauchlan Arena. The Canadiens took the New Brunswick final by beating Moncton 4-1 in a seven-game series.
“They (the Canadiens) are a strong team... they’ll be a challenge.”
The Privateers also have dates with the Charlottetown Islanders — who defeated St. John’s in the championship game at the Monctonian — the host Cornwall Thunder and the Halifax Titans.
The top two teams at the end of the round robin advance to Sunday’s championship game.
Since the provincial final wrapped on Mar. 12, Bray has struggled to find competition and ice-time to keep the Privateers sharp. But he insists the team is ready,
“We’d been skating them a little harder and doing a lot of backchecking drills trying to prepare them,” says Bray.
Regardless of what happens this week, the Privateers will vie for a national title as hosts of the Telus Cup national major midget championship, April 18-24 at Mile One Centre.
“I wouldn’t worry about complacency,” says Bray. “We still have a fair amount of fellas who were at Atlantics last year. They know what it takes to win at that level.
Scott Walsh, Matt Jenkins, Bradyn Brown, Lee Gulliver, Ryan Walsh, Ryan Power, Brandon Pye, Brandon Kablfleisch, Nick Lindstrom, Mike Abbott, Trevor Forward, Justin O’Reilly, Liam Hynes, Marcus Power, Joe Trenholm, Danny Wicks, Dylan Joy, Marcus Cuomo, Connor Donaghey, Nathan Yetman, Danny Phillips, Nick Walsh, head coach Wally Bray, assistants coaches Charlie Quick, Pat O’Keefe and Jason MacIsaac, and manager Tim Power.
Privateers’ round-robin opponents
Thursday: Fredericton Canadiens
Friday: Charlottetown Islanders
Saturday: Cornwall, P.E.I. Thunder and Halifax Titans