PORT HAWKESBURY: The fifth game of the Strait Pirates’ Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL) championship series against the Sackville Blazers will take place tonight (April 16) at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Center.

The series is all tied up at 2-2, and Pirate coach Taylor Lambke is looking at the remainder of the series as a three-game showdown starting tonight after the puck drops at 7:30 p.m.

“Now we’ve got a best-of-three with two of them in our building,” Lambke said.

Pirate Randon MacKinnon had a goal last Friday in the Strait’s 4-0 win over Sackville. Blazer Regan McDonald follows him into the corner. Photo by Grant McDaniel

“If you told our guys in September we’d have a best two-out-of-three to go to the DoJo [Don Johnson Cup Atlantic Championship] and two of them are in your rink, they’d take it.”

The series started with the Blazers winning game one 3-1 on April 5. After that, the Pirates managed two shutout wins (3-0 on April 8 and 4-0 on April 13) to take a 2-1 series lead. Last Monday in Sackville, the Blazers tied the series at 2-2 by skating to a 2-1 final.

Talking to The Reporter this morning, Coach Lambke said he and the guys had a good talk after last night’s game.

“Listen, we can’t change this one, but we have the next one in our building tomorrow night,” he said was the message he gave the team. “If we play the way we can play, shut it down defensively and capitalize on some of our chances, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Game four saw Blazer goalie Justin Sumarah stop 50 of 51 shots fired at him. Only Avery Warner (assisted by Olan Spears and Matthew Morgan) managed to put the puck past Sumarah. That goal came in the third period, after a second period that saw Blazers Ryan Prosser and Regan McDonald both connect for the hosts.

The Prosser goal was on a man-advantage.

Pirate goalies Cody Smith faced 31 shots.

Blazer Ryan Prosper tests Pirate backstop Cody Smith last Friday. Smith managed shutouts in the second and third games of the NSJHL championship series.

Coach Lambke said the Sackville goalie is indeed very good, but the Strait offense might be unintentionally helping him by not going harder to the net.

 “I just find we’re not paying the price in front of our net,” Lambke said. “We’re making him look good by taking 50 shots from the outside, but give Cody Smith 50 wristers from 30 feet and he won’t let anything in either. We got to get some guys to step up with a couple of big games to get us where we want to go.”

In game three which took place last Friday, the Strait outshot Sackville 45-34. Smith got the shutout, and scoring were Randon MacKinnon (from Devin Sceles and Joshua    MacMillan); Jacob Keagan (from Warner and Liam MacKinnon); Warner (from Hunter Woodland); and Woodland (From Keagan and Warner).

Game six is slated for this Friday in Sackville at 8 p.m., and game seven (if needed) takes place at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.