Mustangs’ captain chosen league MVP
Pitman brings ‘winning mentality’ to South Shore U18 major hockey team
JOHN MACNEIL SALTWIRE NETWORK firstname.lastname@example.org @Johnnymachockey
South Shore Mustangs captain Jared Pitman was in school when he learned he had been named the most valuable player in the Nova Scotia U18 Major Hockey League. “My girlfriend sent me a picture on Twitter, and then after that I got a text from my coach,” said the 16-year-old centre from Tusket in Yarmouth County. Pitman first thought the award was for MVP of the Mustangs, but coach Ian Haverstock soon congratulated him on being chosen MVP of the entire eight-team league. “Oh, it was amazing,” Pitman said. “I was not expecting that, at all. It was pretty exciting to hear. But it wasn’t just all me. My teammates helped me out.” In his second year in the U18 major league, Pitman was a force on the ice and a presence in the dressing room as the Mustangs pushed their way to an 11-win regular season and a sixth-place finish, a marked improvement after finishing last the previous two seasons. His teammates were equally pleased about Pitman’s success and the organization’s progress. “We were pretty pumped,” said goaltender Graydon Mole, one of the Mustangs’ leaders on and off the ice. “It was a bit of a surprise because South Shore is usually at the bottom of the pool. Jared deserved it, though. “He took over for a little bit. We were in sixth place, but he was still first in (league) points, under (Coen) Miller. It was impressive. We had a little rough patch there, but it didn’t stop Jared. I think everyone relied on him so much that a little bit of our team shut down for a bit.” Pitman, a 2022 draft selection of the junior A Yarmouth Mariners and the major junior Bathurst Titan, scored 20 goals and 46 points in 34 games with South Shore this season. He placed eighth in league scoring. The top scorer was 55point man Lane Lochead of Pictou County-based Weeks. Miller tied for fifth with 50 points, even though he left the Cole Harbour Wolfpack at mid-season to play junior A with the South Shore Lumberjacks. Pitman, who averaged 1.35 points per game, is recognized for his two-way play and competitiveness. The Mustangs appreciate that he preaches — and practises — honesty and accountability. “Jared, on and off (the ice), has such a winning mentality that he won’t care about feelings,” Mole said. “He’s trying to make everybody better and play their hardest. He doesn’t want to go down without a fight, really.” South Shore went up against third-place Cole Harbour in the opening round of the playoffs, which were set to begin March 1. The Wolfpack expected a worthy challenge from the Mustangs and captain Pitman, especially. “He has good vision coming up the ice, so we’ve got to watch out for that,” said Cole Harbour scoring leader Tyler Totten. “He can score, also. He’s a good offensive player.” Totten’s 52 points left him tied with Halifax Mcdonald’s captain Bailey Shortall for second place in league scoring. Cole Harbour’s secondleading scorer, Goran Stobo, echoed Totten’s sentiments on Pitman. “He’s a good player,” said Stobo, whose separated shoulder sidelined him for the opening of the playoffs. “He’s definitely one of the guys that our team needs to keep covered and really notice when he’s on the ice so (we can) try to limit what he can do, really. He’s a smart player.” Pitman, almost five-foot-11 and 158 pounds, attributed his success this season to some changes he made off the ice. “I went to the gym a lot more this year during the hockey season,” he said. “Last year, I kind of slacked off and didn’t think it would help me during the year. But this year, I sure put in the work and it really showed.” For his sophomore season, Pitman also opted to billet in the Bridgewater area and attend high school at Park View Education Centre, rather than making the two-hour drive from his home to Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre multiple times each week.