PORT HAWKESBURY: No one in the Strait Pirate camp was ready to push the panic button going into last weekend, but with only two wins in their first eight games, the maroon and white were due for a couple wins. And that’s exactly what they got.
“We were overall happy with how hard we were playing every game,” said Taylor Lambke, Pirate coach. “It was just a matter of making some costly mistakes that cost us a few one-goal games, but we knew if we put in the effort and kept playing the way we play, it was just a matter of time before we’d get a couple of wins.”
Friday night’s game was an 8-3 win against the Pictou Scotians, and Sunday night’s game was a 2-1 shootout win over the Antigonish Bulldogs. As a result, the Pirates sit third in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League’s Sid Rowe Division with a record of 4-5-1 (shootout loss).
“We were ready to go Friday night against Pictou,” Lambke said. “We knew it was going to be a big test. It was a division match-up and a veteran team over there. The boys prepared properly, played the right way, and the results took care of themselves.
“It was a fun hockey game [against Antigonish]. I think they realized the significance of it in the standings, and both teams worked hard and played hard. It came down to one shot in the end, and fortunately we were on the right side of it.”
On Friday, the Pirates took advantage of a bad start for Pictou goalie Blake Meech, who allowed four goals on 18 shots in the first. As a result, the Pirates had a 4-1 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes.
That lead was expanded to 6-1 at the end of 40 minutes. The second period was a busy on for the officials, as 98 penalty minutes were assigned. Scrapping were Pirate Owen Higgins and Scotian Ryan MacDonald and, in addition to that, six 10-minute misconducts were handed out.
Both teams managed two goals in the third.
Leading scoring for the Strait were Joshua MacMillan, two goals and an assist; Josh Foster, a goal and two assists; Randon MacKinnon, three helpers; Cody Hinkley and Calan Kersten, both with a goal and assist; Riley Keeling, two assists; Bryce Reynolds, Devin Sceles, and William Stewart, all with a goal each; and Jordan Moss, Christian Papineau, Callum Jordan, Nicholas MacGillivary, and Olan Spears, all of whom had an assist. Matthew Stymest stopped 28 shots.
On Sunday, Antigonish Bulldog Jacob Tompkins (from Dylan MacLean and Patrik MacIsaac) managed to put the puck past Pirate goalie Peter Kopf with 5:57 left in the first period.
The hosts maintained that lead until the third period when, with 4:19 played, MacKinnon (from Foster and MacMillan) scored the tying goal. After a scoreless overtime period, the game was decided in a shootout.
Braden Henwood faced 27 shots while Kopf faced 31. Other action included third period fisticuffs between Pirate Papineau and Bulldog Connor Fraser.
The Strait will return to action this Friday when hosting the Sackville Blazers, and Lambke said the game will be a good chance for his crew to avenge a one-goal loss from October 16.
“We lost 2-1 in a close game,” Lambke said. “We were short a few bodies, guys were in the middle of midterms. We’ll have a full roster Friday, and it’s a game we expect to win.”
The coach said he and the team are hoping fans are enjoying the season so far.
“Thanks to the fans coming out and supporting us so far this year,” he said. “We’re going to keep playing hard and give them something good to cheer about.”