PORT HAWKESBURY: Had the Strait Pirates been able to play their Friday night game against the Cumberland County Blues, the maroon and white would have very possibly clinched first place overall with a home ice win. As it stands, the Strait ended up taking first by a slightly different method.
“We actually clinched first overall sitting on our couches on Saturday night,” said Taylor Lambke, Pirate bench boss. “East Hants lost in Liverpool. We were hoping to do it with a win on home ice, but that just didn’t work out.”
The East Hants Penguins (22-5-2-2) were the only team in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League keeping pace with the Pirates (26-2-1-0), but their Saturday loss means they can no longer garner enough points to overtake the Strait.
Last Friday night, freezing rain kept the Blues from traveling too far. The game will be made up before the end of the season.
Having said that, the Pirates have still been a busy crew. The guys played back-to-back games against the dangerous Glace Bay Miners last Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Strait winning 3-2 and 2-1 (in shootout) respectively. With that, the Strait handed the Eskasoni Eagles an 11-6 loss last Sunday.
“Glace Bay is a team we might see again in the playoffs,” Lambke said. “Tuesday at home we started a little slow, but once the guys found their game, I think we played really well for the last two periods. It was nice to see us push through with a big goal from Randon MacKinnon, an overage guy.
“We carried that into the next night with a few Major Midget guys coming up. We played really well, and Cody Smith was unbelievable. We pulled it out in a shootout.
“Against Eskasoni, we generated a lot of offense but made a few bad reads defensively. Overall, we played well.
“Sometimes, shots go in and that’s what happened yesterday [Sunday].”
Leading scoring last Tuesday was Matthew Morgan, a goal and two assists; MacKinnon and Avery Warner, a goal each; and Joshua MacMillan and Jacob Keagan, each assisting. Goalie Cody Smith faced 28 shots.
On Wednesday, Josh Foster (from Branden Dauphinee and Morgan) scored. According to the shot count, Smith faced 50 shots.
Last Sunday, Smith and Peter Kopf shared goaltending duties. Scoring was led by Taylor Pierce and Hunter Woodland, two goals and two assists each; Morgan, a hat trick; Cullen MacEachern, three assists; Devin Sceles, a goal and assist; Keagan, two helpers; MacKinnon, Dauphinee, and Olan Spears, a goal each; James Murphy, Christian Papineau, and Sebastian Vella, all with helpers.
The Pirates will host the Antigonish Bulldogs this Friday at 7:30 p.m. There will be a pre-game ceremony for the Pirate overagers, and fans are encouraged to come out for the local guys.