PORT HAWKESBURY: Four games are all it took.
The Strait Pirates became the Sid Rowe Division champs last Saturday when taking to the ice at the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre against the Glace Bay Miners. The Pirates came out on top in a 4-3 final, locking down their second round play-off series in four games.
“We don’t make it easy on our fans,” said Pirate coach Taylor Lambke. “We like to win games in dramatic fashion, maybe in overtime or maybe with two seconds left in regulation.
“The guys are really excited to be heading to the finals and going after a championship. That’s been our goal from the start of the year. It’s so nice to see the Pirate organization doing some great things. We’re proud.”
As Lambke indicated, saying the Pirates swept the Miners is technically true, but not many sweeps are as competitive as the second round series proved to be.
In game four last Saturday, Josh MacMillan (from Devin Sceles and Randon MacKinnon) scored with two seconds left in the third period, giving the Pirates a one-goal win.
“There was a battle in the corner, and then it was like the hockey gods found a way to get the puck out to the slot,” Lambke said. “It went by one of their sticks, right on to Josh’s, and he made no mistake.
“We really appreciate the group of fans who traveled down to support us. When we scored, behind our bench erupted. It was great to see young and old fans cheering like that.”
It was MacMillan’s second goal of the night, as he managed a first period goal (from Branden Dauphinee). MacKinnon had a second period goal (from MacMillan and Sceles) and so did Taylor Pierce (from Josh Foster and Matthew Morgan).
Goalie Cody Smith faced 34 shots for the Strait.
The night before in Port Hawkesbury, Avery Warner (from Bryce Reynolds and Jacob Keagan) had the game winner, once again in dramatic fashion. He lifted the Strait to a 4-3 win in double overtime.
MacMillan once again had a good game, connecting for two goals and an assist; MacKinnon and Warner were good for a goal and assist; and Liam MacKinnon and Christian Papineau had helpers.
Smith stopped 41 of 44 Miner shots.
The second game of the series was on March 16, and saw the Pirates win a 1-0 final. MacKinnon (unassisted) scored with 3:44 left in the third.
Only in the first game of the series did the Pirates truly dominate the Miners. That game ended 5-0.
The Strait is now waiting to see what happens in the Fred Fox Division final, where the East Hants Penguins and Sackville Blazers are battling.
“That series is a long way from over, I think,” Lambke said. “For us, we aren’t too concerned about who we play. We have to play our game and be ready to go.
“But we’re happy to take a little bit of a break, get some rest and heal up a little bit from some bumps and bruises. We’ll be ready to go from there.”