The Pictou County Weeks Crushers will open the MHL’s regular season this week in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top 20.
The Crushers are ranked 17th as they prepare to host the St. Stephen Aces on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. They are slated to visit the Amherst Ramblers on Saturday in their other MHL game this week.
The Woodstock Slammers are ranked 10th among CJHL teams.
The Crushers had the top overall record in the MHL last season to take the regular-season championship with a 38-9-2-1 mark and 79 points.
The team finished first or tied for first in goals for, fewest goals against, power play and penalty killing efficiency during last year’s regular season.
The Ramblers ousted the Crushers in seven games in their opening playoff round.
Head coach and assistant manager Doug Doull returns to the Crushers’ helm in an effort to recapture the MHL playoff championship that they won for the first time in 2016.
The Crushers split their first two pre-season games against the Summerside Western Capitals, losing 6-2 on August 31 at the Wellness Centre and winning 4-0 on September 2 in Summerside.
They had two games scheduled last week against the Truro Bearcats.
The Bearcats shut out the Crushers 2-0 despite being outshot 35-29.
Truro scored twice in the first period and the lead held up for the rest of the game.
Luke Melanson was in the Crushers’ goal.
A scheduled game last Saturday in Truro was cancelled due to ice problems.
The Crushers most recent deals include acquiring Giancarlo Fiori from Hawkesbury, Ont. for future considerations.
They also traded away Domenico Argento for future considerations.
Local players are among newcomers who played for the Crushers during the pre-season: Kevin Mason, Jaden Mason and Jake Martin.