Josh MacDonald hopes to cap his career as Western Capital with an MHL championship
SUMMERSIDE, PEI — Josh MacDonald did just about everything with the Summerside Western Capitals D. Alex MacDonald Ford.
Now the 20-year-old Cornwall, PEI captain is two wins away from capping a five-year career by winning his first Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) championship. . The Caps take a 2-0 lead in Game 3 against the Truro Bearcats in the best of seven Canadian Tire Cup championships at Island Petroleum Energy Center on April 28 at 7 p.m.
“It’s been quite the journey,” the six-foot, 175-pound MacDonald said in a recent interview with SaltWire Network. “It’s been a very, very long time and I’m thrilled to finally make it to the final.
“Obviously the last two years without having played the playoffs (due to COVID-19) have been difficult, especially since we were so close in the first year.
The 2020 season was canceled just before the start of the playoffs after the Caps posted a league-best record of 42-7-1-2 (win-lost-overtime loss record). The Caps began a round-robin playoff format in 2021 before the season was canceled.
Those disappointments came after heartbreaking Division Finals losses two years in a row – a seven-game streak against Edmundston in 2018 and a six-game streak against Campbellton in 2019.
Now Aaron and Debra MacDonald’s son takes nothing for granted.
“The anticipation has been building for a long time,” MacDonald said. “If we had reached the final one of those years, it would be the same; it’s the biggest stage you can get to.
MacDonald joined the Capitals as a 16-year-old rookie for the 2017-18 season of Charlottetown Pride’s (now Knights) major under-18 program. The Capitals drafted MacDonald in the second round, 23rd overall, in the 2017 MHL Draft.
MacDonald took on an early defensive role with the Caps, before becoming an offensive leader in recent years. MacDonald, who missed a lot of time during the 2021-22 regular season with a lower-body injury, scored 59 points, including a league-leading 31 goals, in 31 games. He was named MHL Player of the Year.
“When I turned 16 I had no idea what I was getting into, but it was everything I had hoped for and more,” MacDonald said.
“When I turned 16 I had no idea what I was getting into, but it was everything I had hoped for and more.”
As a young player, MacDonald relished the opportunity to have a front row seat to watch veterans Brodie MacArthur, the Caps’ all-time leader Kallum Muirhead and TJ Shea dominate the league offensively.
“They kind of laid the groundwork for how our team played,” MacDonald said. “I arrived as a third, fourth line playing a defensive role. But I was definitely able to take notes, and when it was time to step up (offensively), we were ready.
Caps head coach Billy McGuigan described MacDonald as a son or brother. McGuigan said as a young player, MacDonald accepted a standard on his defensive play and worked hard on that side of the game. When the opportunity arose for MacDonald to step up the offense, he took full advantage of it.
“Every day he comes to the rink, he has a big smile on his face,” McGuigan said. “He’s just happy to be here.
“He’s not very emotional and is always kind of the same; it is neither too high nor too low. When we won the North Division championship and they got the trophy, he looked at me and said, “I’m not touching that; that’s not what we want.
What some people may not realize about MacDonald, a third-year kinesiology student at UPEI, is his love of music. In fact, he has a rock ‘n’ roll song – I’m An Idiot – available on Spotify and Apple Music.
“It’s always been important to have distractions or something when you’re home,” MacDonald said. “It can’t be hockey all the time, otherwise you burn out.
“I took guitar and piano, and it’s just something I like to do to clear my head and not think about the game for a while.”
MacDonald and his good friend, Ryan Richards, also started a podcast – TableBuzz.
MacDonald said the podcast features sports, pop culture, local news and everything happening. MacDonald and Richards plan to move to Toronto this summer to develop the podcast.
But before MacDonald heads to Canada’s biggest city, he’s hoping to finish some unfinished business with the Caps.
A league championship would extend MacDonald’s time wearing the Caps’ red, white and blue jerseys as the MHL champions advance to the Centennial Cup national championship in Estevan, Sask., May 19-29.
It would also give MacDonald the opportunity to add to his collection of memorabilia as the capital.
“I’m lucky I have too many to pick one, but I’m hoping for more good ones to come,” MacDonald said. “I’ll probably have a different answer in a month or two, I hope.”
Jason Simmonds is a sportswriter at the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.