PORT HAWKESBURY: Taylor Lambke now has two games under his belt as the new head coach of the Junior Pirates and, after 120 minutes behind the bench, he’s seeing more positives than negatives.
“We played solid Friday night,” he said, following last Friday’s 8-2 win over the Cumberland County Blues. “That’s going to be what our team is about: up-tempo and high-offense.
“I was a little disappointed with Saturday’s game, not necessarily the effort but a few mistakes here and there cost us. I still think it was a good effort, but it could have been better executed.”
The Pirates were visiting the Glace Bay Miners on Saturday, and the result was a 7-3 loss. The Miners are bound to be a dominant team this season, as they are hosting the Don Johnson Cup (Junior B Atlantics).
Of course, Lambke said this year’s Pirates are likely to be pretty competitive themselves.
“Upfront, we have Morgan Timmons and Randon MacKinnon coming back from last year’s team,” he said. “Those are two players I’m going to lean on heavily for their experience and leadership. We’re lucky enough to add [Major Midget Islander] Avery Warner, who’s going to be a big part of the team moving forward. We also got a couple kids from the Valley, Josh MacMillan and Josh Foster, who we’re really excited to get via trade.
“On the backend, we’re going to have a rotation of guys to start the season. We were able to add Jordan Moss, an overager who’ll bring some experience back there. We’re going to have some young defensemen in Callum Jordan and Riley Keeling, who played a little bit last year and who’ll have a bigger role this year.
“When we get back to the goaltending [Matthew] Stymest is back again, and I thought he played really well on Friday night. Peter Kopf will be our other goalie this year. I have a lot of experience with him.
“We’re going to be a well-rounded team. Up front, we’re going to be really fast and really skilled. The defence will develop as the season goes on.”
Timmons and Bryce Reynonds made their presence felt as both connected for a three-point night.
Steady fire throughout all three periods resulted in the win, as the Strait managed three goals in the first, two in the second, and three in the third. The maroon and white outshot the Blues 41-24.
Timmons turned out an impressive night as he scored on a breakaway at 6:18 of the second period. His goal was shorthanded, and stemmed from a blueline turnover in the Pirate zone that allowed him to bolt down the ice.
Timmons (from Reynolds) scored in the early going on the third. Reynolds (from William Stewart and Nicholas MacGillivary) scored in the third, as did MacKinnon (from MacMillan and Timmons). The MacKinnon goal came on the man-advantage, and it was the only Pirate power play goal of the evening.
MacKinnon also scored in the first (from MacMillan) with 36 seconds left in the frame. It was the first of two Pirate goals in rapid succession, as Cody Hinkley (from Devin Sceles and Owen Higgins) connected just 14 seconds later.
Also in the first period was Dawson MacLean’s goal, set-up by Sceles and Jordan Moss. MacGillivary (from Reynolds and Stewart) had a Pirate goal with two minutes left in the second.
Replying for the Blues were Alex Griffiths, with a power play goal at 14:18 of the first period, and Chad Miller, with and even-strength goal at 7:44 of the second. With those exceptions, Stymest was perfect when facing 24 shots.
Trent Wilkie and Pierrick Heudes shared goaltending shared duties in the Blues’ net.
Midway through the first period, local fans saw their first Junior scrap of the year. Pirate Olan Spears threw knuckles with Cumberland’s Mats Stone, in a stand-up tilt that left both benches cheering.
In the first period, Spears (from Hinkley and Sceles) and Moss (from Duncan MacInnis) both put the puck past Miner Logan Cooke, who faced 33 Pirate shots. The score was tied 2-2 after 20 minutes, due to the efforts of Miners Nolan Smith and Kelly Yates.
It was the second period when the Miners took control, with Yates, Daniel Reid and Peter MacNeil all putting the puck in the net for the hosts. Stymest was in net once again, and he faced a game total of 34 shots.
Despite a Reynolds goal set up by Spears and Moss with 6:34 played in the third, the Miners remained in control for the win. Miners Brendon MacLean (with 4:08 left) and Tristan Nordine (57 seconds left) rounded out scoring for the hosts.
This Friday, the East Hants Penguins visit the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre for a 7:30 p.m. start against the Strait. It’s the only game of the weekend for the local guys.