PORT HAWKESBURY: With three games under their belt, the Junior Pirates are the number one team in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
“Our goal was to be 3-0 at the end of September, move into the next month and take things from there,” said Pirate coach Taylor Lambke. “It’s a good start, but we still have a lot of work ahead.”
The Pirates dropped the Sackville Blazers last Friday night. The 4-1 final was the second time in the space of a week the Pirates beat the perennial powerhouse Blazers. The Strait also dropped them last Monday in a road game that ended 3-2.
“Tim [General Manager Tim MacMillan] pointed out that it’s been seven or eight years since the Pirates won in Sackville, and that shows how tough they’ve been in the other division,” said Lambke.
“It was a tough game on Monday. We had to stick with it in the third; we got into some penalty trouble.
“Friday night was another good test, but the biggest thing with us so far is that we’re playing a full 60 minutes, and that’s allowing us to get on the right side of some of these tight one-goal games.”
On Friday, the Pirates outshot the Blazers dramatically, with the Strait putting 41 shots on Blazer backstop Riley Piercey. Pirate goalie Cody Smith faced 16 shots, allowing only one goal in the early going of the third.
Scoring for the Pirates in the first period was Taylor Pierce (from Callum Jordan and Branden Dauphinee), and scoring in the second on a power play was Joshua MacMillan (from Liam MacKinnon and Random MacKinnon). In the third period, Jacob Keagan (from Avery Warner and Jordan) scored, and managing an empty netter was Randon MacKinnon (unassisted).
Last Monday, both teams managed 38 shots on net. The Blazers popped a pair in the third, with Smith in net once again. As the coach indicated, the Pirates took four minors in the final 20 minutes, and that led to Sackville outshooting them 17-7 in the final frame.
Scoring for the Pirates were Bryce Reynolds, with a goal and assist; Matt Morgan and Jacob Keagan, a goal each; and managing helpers were Dauphinee and Warner.
“One thing we’re doing really well so far is that we’re getting off to great starts, putting teams on their heels, and we’re putting a lot of shots on the board,” Lambke said.
“The other teams aren’t getting a lot of shots on net, but at the same time that can be hard for Cody [Goalie Cody Smith] because he gets stretches without seeing any pucks. He does a great job of staying focused and when there’s an opportunity, he’s ready.
“Overall, we’re happy with our game right now and we know we can build off it.”
The Pirates recently named their captain for their 54th season, and Morgan is wearing the ‘C’. Assistant captains are Pierce and MacKinnon.
The coach said the players will do a great job.
“Matty has a lot of experience, and he’s been a captain before,” Lambke said. “We’re happy to have his as captain, and Randon and Taylor are long-time Pirates with a lot of leadership and experience as well.”
This Friday, the Strait is on the road to East Hants.