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Sports Scene: Junior teams continue on playoff trail


It was Tuesday afternoon before practice that I talked to Truro Bearcats Zach Beaton. Just a night earlier, the Bearcats had come through with an exciting, series-clinching 6-3 win against Pictou County Weeks Crushers.

"We're honoured to have won the series against the Crushers," said 20-year-old Beaton, of Stratford, P.E.I., said. "To be in the final four in our league is great. We can't take anything for granted - every one of these teams who started out in August have the same goal we do. We have to continue to come to the rink and work hard every day."

A tireless, hard-working hockey player who finishes his checks, Beaton, a left-winger, plays on a line centred by Jimmy Soper with Justin Doiron at right wing. Standing six foot three and weighing 190 pounds, Beaton's work ethic is also noteworthy.

"My dad always told me to play the game hard," Beaton said. "Part of the role I'm playing with the Bearcats is to keep it simple and do everything I can to help the team win. Checking and coming back deep and taking the man out is part of it."

Beaton, a graduate of Charlottetown Rural High School who took four university courses at University of P.E.I., was acquired by the Bearcats the day of the trade deadline in early January from the Miramichi Timber Wolves. Last season he played with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and 2012-2013 saw him split the season between Cape Breton of the QMJHL and the Summerside Capitals - the Maritime Junior Hockey League champions and Royal Bank Cup hosts.

The former Cornwall Thunder major midget star said the Bearcats are excited and looking forward to their Eastlink Division final series against Valley Wildcats.

"Everyone on the team wants badly to win. We realize we have to be prepared and we have to be ready for every game. All our boys get along well - we want to win for each other. We have good team spirit and we all have the same goal."

Following Friday night's series opener at the Apple Bowl in Berwick, the Bearcats return to the Rath Eastlink Community Centre to host the Wildcats Sunday night. Opening face-off is at 7 p.m.

On the junior C side, the MU Rhinos Renovations Rhinos have enjoyed a banner season to date. The Phil Lynds-coached team had an outstanding regular season record of 23-4. In 10 playoff games they've won eight and convincingly laid claim to the 2015 Nova Scotia Junior C championship.

Thursday morning the Rhinos began their pursuit of a Maritime Hockey North Junior C Championship at the MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown. Lucas Gulliver, a 6-3, 190 pound left winger who plays on a line with Aaron Crocker and Austin Wheeler, was one of the team's top playoff scorers. Gulliver has scored five goals and picked up six assists in nine games.

"It's been a great season to date," said Gulliver, 19, of North River. "We all came together as a team in the Nova Scotia playoffs. Getting to go to the Atlantics is really exciting. We'd love to bring home an Atlantic championship - we have good team spirit and the moral is good."

The Sherwood Falcons are the host team with other competition for the Rhinos being provided by the South Side Lynx of Crapaud, Western Valley Panthers and Baffin Blizzard of Nunavut.

"I know everyone is looking forward to having a big tournament in P.E.I.," Gulliver said. "We all really like hockey and going to the rink and competing. We're a big group of friends pulling for each other wherever we play. We've also built up quite a friendship outside of hockey."

Besides playing one season in the West Colchester Minor Hockey Association in Debert, Gulliver played several seasons of minor hockey in the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association. This is his second season playing for the Rhinos after also playing for coach Lynds in 2012-13 when the MU Rhino Renovations club played minor AAA midget.

In today's Maritime Hockey North Junior C Championship play, semifinal games are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The gold medal game will be played Sunday at 2 p.m.

_______________________________________________________________

Lyle Carter's sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.

"We're honoured to have won the series against the Crushers," said 20-year-old Beaton, of Stratford, P.E.I., said. "To be in the final four in our league is great. We can't take anything for granted - every one of these teams who started out in August have the same goal we do. We have to continue to come to the rink and work hard every day."

A tireless, hard-working hockey player who finishes his checks, Beaton, a left-winger, plays on a line centred by Jimmy Soper with Justin Doiron at right wing. Standing six foot three and weighing 190 pounds, Beaton's work ethic is also noteworthy.

"My dad always told me to play the game hard," Beaton said. "Part of the role I'm playing with the Bearcats is to keep it simple and do everything I can to help the team win. Checking and coming back deep and taking the man out is part of it."

Beaton, a graduate of Charlottetown Rural High School who took four university courses at University of P.E.I., was acquired by the Bearcats the day of the trade deadline in early January from the Miramichi Timber Wolves. Last season he played with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and 2012-2013 saw him split the season between Cape Breton of the QMJHL and the Summerside Capitals - the Maritime Junior Hockey League champions and Royal Bank Cup hosts.

The former Cornwall Thunder major midget star said the Bearcats are excited and looking forward to their Eastlink Division final series against Valley Wildcats.

"Everyone on the team wants badly to win. We realize we have to be prepared and we have to be ready for every game. All our boys get along well - we want to win for each other. We have good team spirit and we all have the same goal."

Following Friday night's series opener at the Apple Bowl in Berwick, the Bearcats return to the Rath Eastlink Community Centre to host the Wildcats Sunday night. Opening face-off is at 7 p.m.

On the junior C side, the MU Rhinos Renovations Rhinos have enjoyed a banner season to date. The Phil Lynds-coached team had an outstanding regular season record of 23-4. In 10 playoff games they've won eight and convincingly laid claim to the 2015 Nova Scotia Junior C championship.

Thursday morning the Rhinos began their pursuit of a Maritime Hockey North Junior C Championship at the MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown. Lucas Gulliver, a 6-3, 190 pound left winger who plays on a line with Aaron Crocker and Austin Wheeler, was one of the team's top playoff scorers. Gulliver has scored five goals and picked up six assists in nine games.

"It's been a great season to date," said Gulliver, 19, of North River. "We all came together as a team in the Nova Scotia playoffs. Getting to go to the Atlantics is really exciting. We'd love to bring home an Atlantic championship - we have good team spirit and the moral is good."

The Sherwood Falcons are the host team with other competition for the Rhinos being provided by the South Side Lynx of Crapaud, Western Valley Panthers and Baffin Blizzard of Nunavut.

"I know everyone is looking forward to having a big tournament in P.E.I.," Gulliver said. "We all really like hockey and going to the rink and competing. We're a big group of friends pulling for each other wherever we play. We've also built up quite a friendship outside of hockey."

Besides playing one season in the West Colchester Minor Hockey Association in Debert, Gulliver played several seasons of minor hockey in the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association. This is his second season playing for the Rhinos after also playing for coach Lynds in 2012-13 when the MU Rhino Renovations club played minor AAA midget.

In today's Maritime Hockey North Junior C Championship play, semifinal games are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The gold medal game will be played Sunday at 2 p.m.

_______________________________________________________________

Lyle Carter's sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.

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