Big divisional matchups highlight the week’s schedule

After a glut of cross-divisional plays, teams will jostle for position against their rivals for five straight days this week in the Maritime Hockey League.

The action kicks off Wednesday with two games. The Truro Bearcats (7-3-0-0), the hottest team in the Eastlink South with four straight wins, begin a home and home series with South Shore (4-5-2-0) at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC). Elsewhere, the Timberwolves head to Edmundston. Miramichi have won four of six games in October and both teams enter with identical records of 5-5-1-0.

The schedule picks up Thursday with three games. The Summerside Western Capitals (8-2-0-0) look for their eighth win in a row as they host St. Stephen, who are the third 5-5-1-0 team in a closely contested Eastlink North. Pictou County (1-6-2-2) look to turn their fortunes around as they host the division-leading Mariners (9-2-0-1). Five of the Crushers’ eleven games this season have required extra time, and at some point the law of averages is going to kick in, right? Yarmouth, meanwhile, look to bounce back from a 5-4 loss on home ice to the Lumberjacks last weekend. Speaking of South Shore, they’ll play host to Truro.

The games keep coming Friday with three more matchups. In the MHL Game of the Week, which is free to watch on HockeyTV, the Truro Bearcats play their third game in three days as they host Amherst (8-3-0-0). The Ramblers have been on a roll of late and beat Truro 5-0 at the RECC in their last meeting. The Campbellton Tigers (6-4-0-0) have won three straight and host Edmundston, entering the week just a point ahead of those 5-5-1-0 teams in the North. Finally, Yarmouth return home to face Valley (2-6-3-0). Like Pictou County, the Wildcats have been snake-bit by close defeats with a number of one-goal losses.

Ten of twelve MHL teams are on the ice Saturday. In the North, Summerside and Edmundston lock horns for the third time. Last Saturday, the Western Capitals scored three times in the third period en route to a 4-2 win, following a 6-0 win over the Blizzard in September. This will be their first matchup at Centre Jean Daigle this season. Elsewhere, Campbellton travels to St. Stephen and Grand Falls (4-4-1-0) heads to Miramichi. The Timberwolves won 5-3 in Grand Falls earlier in the season, so the Rapids will be looking to return the favour. In the South, South Shore are back on the ice as they travel to face Valley and Amherst is home to Pictou County.

The busy week wraps up with a Sunday matinee as the Rapids host Summerside at the E. & P. Sénéchal Centre.

As always, games can be viewed on HockeyTV.

Date Visitor Home Venue Time
Wed, Oct 17 South Shore Truro Rath Eastlink Community Centre 7:00 PM
Wed, Oct 17 Miramichi Edmundston Centre Jean Daigle 7:30 PM
Thu, Oct 18 Truro South Shore Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre 7:00 PM
Thu, Oct 18 Yarmouth Pictou County Pictou County Wellness Centre 7:00 PM
Thu, Oct 18 St. Stephen Summerside Credit Union Place 7:00 PM
Fri, Oct 19 Amherst Truro Rath Eastlink Community Centre 7:00 PM
Fri, Oct 19 Edmundston Campbellton Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre 7:30 PM
Fri, Oct 19 Valley Yarmouth Mariners Centre 7:30 PM
Sat, Oct 20 South Shore Valley Kings Mutual Century Centre 7:00 PM
Sat, Oct 20 Pictou County Amherst Amherst Stadium 7:00 PM
Sat, Oct 20 Campbellton St. Stephen Garcelon Civic Centre 7:00 PM
Sat, Oct 20 Summerside Edmundston Centre Jean Daigle 7:30 PM
Sat, Oct 20 Grand Falls Miramichi Miramichi Civic Centre 7:30 PM
Sun, Oct 21 Summerside Grand Falls E. & P. Sénéchal Centre 3:00 PM

Statistically Speaking

Maritime Hockey League teams are averaging just under 20 penalty minutes per game after the first month of the season. That’s a slight increase from 2017-18, where the twelve teams averaged 18.4 PIM/GP, but down from the 22.3 PIM/GP league average in 2016-17. What does this mean? Nothing if teams can’t take advantage of their opportunities.

The league average is 4.3 powerplay opportunities per game. Summerside are under that value with 3.8 powerplays per game. Unsurprisingly, however, they lead the league with a 31.6% powerplay and are tied with Yarmouth at 12 powerplay goals despite 11 fewer total chances with the man advantage this season (and second fewest in the league).

It was mentioned above about the close losses both Pictou County and Valley have suffered. They have the 10th and 11th best powerplay percentages in the MHL, respectively, despite the 4th and 2nd most opportunities. Just one more conversion here or there and it’s hard to argue they wouldn’t have improved their standing thus far.

On the flip side of that is South Shore, who have nearly allowed as many goals on the powerplay (19) as at even strength (27). Through 11 games, their penalty kill is sitting at 68.9%; over 9% behind the second-worst penalty killing team in Edmundston.