PORT HAWKESBURY: The number one team in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL) is still having one heck of a hard time losing a game.
“We won 5-1 Friday at home against Antigonish, and 3-1 yesterday [Sunday] against Eskasoni,” said Pirate Coach Taylor Lambke, chatting to The Reporter last Monday morning. “Something we take a lot of pride in is our defensive play. I thought we were solid in both games; we didn’t give up a whole lot of chances.
“I thought for a little bit of the Antigonish game, we got a little loose with the puck, sloppy at times, but we tightened up. The big thing for us is that we have the ability to go into the third period and lock things down.”
The weekend wins leave the Pirates at 23-2-1, good for 47 points. At the time of this writing, the Pirates are leading the second place East Hants Penguins by three points and, better still, have two games in hand.
The Pirates also played last night (Tuesday, February 5) but the results weren’t available for the print edition. Check out porthawkesburyreporter.com for the latest.
Indeed, the Pirates are right now halfway through a marathon week. Between February 1 and February 10, the guys will have played six games. On Wednesday, February 6, the guys visit Glace Bay. This Friday, the Cumberland County Blues come to town (7:30 p.m. start) and on Sunday, the Strait heads back to Eskasoni for an afternoon game.
After that, the Pirates have only one more regular season game before play-offs.
“I don’t think there’s been a game yet this year that we didn’t put in the work and the effort,” Lambke said. “They’re a great group of guys who come to the rink excited and ready to play hockey.
“The sky’s the limit to what this group can accomplish.”
Last Friday night, Cody Smith faced 38 shots in the Strait’s 5-1 win. That goal came with 8:55 remaining in the third period, but the Strait was already leading by three goals.
The first two came in the first 20 minutes, due to Cullen MacEachern (from Matthew Morgan and Ryan Bakker) and Avery Warner (unassisted).
With just under four minutes played in the third, Branden Dauphinee (unassisted) beat Bulldog Jared Green, who faced 28 shots in total. Dauphinee (from Sebastian Vella and Taylor Pierce) scored once again with 7:03 left to play. Jacob Keagan (from Joshua MacMillan and Devin Sceles) scored with just under five minutes to go.
Connor Aucoin (from Logan DeYoung) had the Antigonish goal.
On Sunday, outshooting the Eskasoni Junior Eagles 48-25, the Pirates contained scoring to the first period, with Keagan (from MacMillan and Christian Papineau), Warner (from Randon MacKinnon and Pierce), and Dauphinee (from Pierce) scoring.
Peter Kopf was in net for the maroon and white.
With playoffs looming, the coach said he and the guys are looking at putting a good run together. With that, making an appearance at the Don Johnson Cup would be a thing of beauty, he said.
“That’s our ultimate goal,” he said. “That’s where we want to get to, but we know we have to break it down and take it one game at a time and one series at a time.”
As always, Coach Lambke said he and the team appreciate seeing fans coming out to cheer them on.