PORT HAWKESBURY: Following a weekend that saw them garner three of a possible four points, the Junior Pirates are gaining ground on the Pictou County Scotians for second place in the Sid Rowe division of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL).
“We’re happy but not satisfied,” said Pirate coach Taylor Lambke, following a Friday night overtime loss to the Sackville Blazers and a Sunday shootout win over the Scotians.
The Pirates are now 5-5-1-1, good for 12 points. That’s one shy of catching Pictou.
The coach said the loss Friday night hurt, given that the Pirates were coming off two wins on the weekend of October 27.
“We came out flat, and we got behind the eight-ball,” he said. “We showed some character in fighting back to get the game to overtime, but it was disappointing to lose the way we did, with a shorthanded goal.”
As Lambke pointed out, the Pirates got off to a rough start, as the Blazers scored two late-period goals to go up 2-0 in the first. Regan MacDonald scored for Sackville shorthanded with 3:38 left, and Alexander Miller took advantage of a powerplay with 25 seconds left.
The Blazers expanded that lead in the second, with Michael Hardie scoring mid-period.
However, the second frame was big for the Strait, with Joshua MacKillan (from Josh Foster and Jordan Moss), William Stewart (from Morgan Timmons and Dawson MacLean), and Jackson Beck (from Nicholas MacGillvary and Devin Sceles) all scoring for the Pirates.
Sackville’s Nicholas McFarlane added a goal in the latter half of the frame, making it 4-3 for the Blazers going into the final 20 minutes.
Beck (from Christian Papineau) had a goal with just under four minutes played in the third to stalemate the game at 4-4.
Sackville’s Jack Berrigan had a shorthanded goal with 1:49 left to play in overtime.
Pirate Matthew Stymest faced 31 shots, and Sackville’s Brendan Hirtle faced 42.
“I think the boys did a good job refocusing on Saturday night,” Lambke said.
“It was one of those games where we stayed with the game plan, stayed with what we wanted to do, and eventually we got a couple of goals and back in the hockey game. Kopf played really well in net, and we got a big win out of it.”
Pictou held the lead at three different times in the Sunday affair, as Scotian Jacob Pentz opened scoring with 7:06 left in the first. Less than a minute later, Cody Hinkley (from Bryce Reynolds) tied the score. Pentz struck again with 5:04 remaining to give his crew a 2-1 lead going into intermission.
Pirate Reynolds (from Papineau and Sceles) had the lone goal of the second frame, tying things at 2-2.
Pictou’s third lead of the game came at 3:59 of the third, with Ryan Dunfield scoring on a power play. The Strait found a tying goal when MacLean scored on a penalty shot.
Stats from the game say Pirate goalie Peter Kopf faced no fewer than 57 shots, and Pictou’s Blake Meech battled against a respectable 35.
The Pirates had a hefty chore ahead of them on Friday, as they host the division-leading Glace Bay Miners.
“This weekend, we’ll be fired up to host Glace Bay,” Lambke said, adding that he encourages local fans to come out and watch.