The Liverpool Privateers were originally scheduled to host the Don Johnson Memorial Cup in 2020-21 to crown an Atlantic Junior Hockey Champion. However as the world vividly knows, COVID held Hockey Championships hostage for two years and with Kent County, New Brunswick also missing their turn in 2019-2020, when the DoJo resumed in 2021-2022, the tournament was held in Kent County who incidentally won last year’s championship. Now instead of 20-21, the Liverpool Privateers are hosting the 2022-23 Don Johnson Memorial Cup at Queens Place Emera Centre. The tournament kicks off tonight at 7:30 when the Nova Scotia Junior League Champions the Antigonish Jr. Bulldogs play the host Privateers. With the NS Junior League trying to reduce costs this past season after the two horrendous years of COVID, teams did not play out of their division in 22-23.
Liverpool and Antigonish enter tonight’s game with solid goaltending. Cody MacEachern was brilliant for the Bulldogs racking up a 12-3-0 record and a 1.97 Goals Against Average while stopping 406 of 436 shots in the 15 games he played in while also recording two shut-outs. The Privateers in a late season acquisition from the Valley Maple Leafs picked up goalie Aidan Durnford and he finished the playoffs with a 3.94 GAA and a .929 save percentage stopping 471 of 507 shots.
Offensively, the Jr. Bulldogs relied on Will Fitzsimmons for a number of goals throughout the year including ten in the playoffs. Sam Grant who led the Jr. Bulldogs in scoring finished with 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points. Darren Waterman also played an integral role in the Bulldogs offence scoring 5 times and adding 10 helpers for 15 points while Zachary Lorette added 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points.
As for the Privateers, they have three very talented players in Malcom Bussey, Alec Howie and Carson Gallant, any of the three can dominate a game at anytime. Gallant led Liverpool with 9 goals in the playoffs in 14 games as the Privateers took East Hants out in 7 games before losing to Capstone in 7 games in the Fred Fox Division Final. Game time once again tonight at the Queens Place Emera Centre is 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday in what will be a rugged week of hockey, the Privateers will host the Kent County, Coyotes from New Brunswick in another 7:30 start while Antigonish will play Kensington P.E.I. at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. In the opener at 12:00 noon Wednesday, the Kent Coyotes and the Conception Bay North Stars from Newfoundland will square off.