A league of their own: Western Capitals isolated from play

·3 min read

As the only Maritime Junior-A Hockey League team on P.E.I., the Summerside Western Capitals are in an unusual situation.

With the closure of the Atlantic bubble, the team has no one to play. In contrast, teams in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have other teams within the league in their own provinces — ones they can continue to compete against.

"We were obviously hoping for better news here in January once we got through the Christmas holidays, and obviously that didn't come," said team general manager Pat McIver.

"We're still working hard and, you know, still looking to play games here."

This week, P.E.I. announced it wouldn't be rejoining the Atlantic bubble until at least Jan. 25. Officials have said rejoining the bubble is contingent upon case numbers.

Meanwhile New Brunswick announced its highest number of new cases of COVID-19 in a single day on Tuesday, and then topped that on Wednesday.

'Still working hard every day'

In Summerside, McIver understands the reason behind the restrictions, but is optimistic things will turn a corner so they can continue their season.

"Right now, it's a lot of practice and you know, the guys are still working hard every day," said McIver.

"We're quite a bit behind the rest of the league now. I think we have five games played and some of the other teams are, you know, up around 14 and 15. So, we've got a lot of ground to make up once we get going."

It's definitely going to be a disadvantage to us — Pat McIver, Summerside Western Capitals

Currently, none of the teams in the league are playing. Due to heightened public health restrictions, New Brunswick's five teams paused play on Tuesday, while Nova Scotia's six teams have been paused since before Christmas.

"It's been tough, you know, I give credit to the guys. The one thing that we've always had is we always had that kind of a target date ... two weeks down the road and then you get to it and then it's two weeks more … the guys kind of stay optimistic," McIver said.

"We're going to be tasked with playing three and sometimes four games a week to get caught up, and that takes a toll, too. So it's definitely going to be a disadvantage to us."

McIver said the team has not played since Nov. 21, which is also a disappointment to the 550 season pass holders.

He said the team, which plays at the Credit Union Place, explored the option of playing against other Island teams outside their league in the meantime, but decided not to follow through with the idea.

"We're, you know, hoping that the next two to three weeks, we can get a green light to play somebody and get going," McIver said.

Due to the loss of games, the league has decided that all 12 teams will make the playoffs this year.

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