Jordan Maher scored at basically a goal-a-game pace this season, notching a league-high 23 in 24 games. He was just as good at setting up goals, collecting 24 assists for 47 points to finish atop the scoring list with the Western Kings’ Jordan King, who also had 47 points but netted 15 goals.
The provincial major midget circuit kicks off its playoffs tonight with the first-place IcePak taking on fourth-place Tri-Pen Osprey eight o’clock at Lewisporte Stadium. Game 2 is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday.
In the other best-of-seven semifinal, the third-place Western Kings are in St. John’s to play second-place St. John’s Maple Leafs in Game 1 which begins 6:30 tonight at Feildian Gardens. Game 2 is set for noon Sunday at Rogers Bussey Arena.
As for Maher, he is expected to be a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft pick in June. He is one of 20 players to comprise the Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador under-16 roster for the QMJHL Excellence Challenge in Blainville-Boisbriand, Que. at the end of April.
“I try to be an all-around player,” said the Grade 10 Gander Collegiate student. “I like to set up plays as much as score goals. I don’t like to be a puck hog.”
Maher described himself as a solid two-way forward who likes to be creative offensively, but also likes to be the first man back defensively.
He said it’s the team’s depth that has enabled the IcePak to go through the regular season with only three losses.
“We have four solid lines and the coach (Rob Canning) trusts every player with their role and every player has accepted his role.
“He really has good control over the bench, and everyone has bought into his system.”
Maher said the fact Central has never won a major midget title is in the players’ minds, but he cautioned they aren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“We’re just going to take it game-by-game and focus on the first series coming up,” he said. “We can’t take any team lightly.”
The five-foot-11, 165-pound centreman said one of the intangibles Central has is dedication to the game.
“We’ve got players from all over Central Newfoundland,” he said, “but we all make every practice we can. We’re working hard because we know what we can do.”
REGULAR SEASON AWARD WINNERS
Top defenceman: Josh Fitzgerald (IcePak)
Most gentlemanly and effective: Jordan Richards (Kings)
Rookie of the year: Adam Dawe (IcePak)
MVP: Jordan Maher (IcePak)
Top Goaltender: Noah Weir (IcePak)
Coach of the Year: Rob Canning (IcePak)
Best goals against average: Noah Weir (IcePak)
Top scorer: Jordan Maher (IcePak)