PORT HAWKESBURY: While the season is over for the Canadian Tire Strait Pirates, it is just warming up for the Antigonish AA Munro Junior Bulldogs as they start their playoff series against the Junior Miners.
Down 3-0 in their best-of-four series versus the Miners, the Pirates were shut-out 7-0 on March 23 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, ending their playoff run, as well as the tumultuous 2020-2021 season.
Assistant coach Tim MacMillan said the team kept working hard right to the end, noting the Miners are a very good team.
“They’re a quality team, right through,” he told The Reporter. “They have speed and skill up front, lots of it, as much as you’ll see on a Junior ‘B’ team; just really fast. Then they’ve got a lot of quality on the back end too, four players who played some Junior ‘A,’ and then they’ve got Cody Smith in nets. They’re good; whoever is going to beat them will have their work cut out for them.”
Meanwhile, Antigonish will take on the Miners tonight (Monday) at the Antigonish Arena, and are scheduled to face them again on Wednesday (March 31) after dispatching the Pictou County Scotians in five games in their best-of-four series.
On March 23 at the Antigonish Arena, the Bulldogs beat the Scotians 5-1, as Corey MacLellan recorded three points, Keegan Gauthier scored twice, while Ryan MacLellan and Luke MacLean each had two points.
Then at home on March 26, the Bulldogs clinched the series with a 4-1 win as Darren Waterman collected three assists and Corey MacLellan had another big night with a goal and an assist.
Despite what he called a “difficult” year for players and coaches, MacMillan said the Pirates still wanted to keep playing.
“We didn’t get much practice time, we didn’t get too much time together,” he stated. “We had all these breaks where we start the season late, get a little time under your belt, then you’re off for a couple of months. You’re back, then you’re off again, and then you’re into playoffs. Just a tough year, but we’ll obviously be looking forward to getting ready and being stronger for next season.”
MacMillan added thanks to the players for sticking with the team, George Stubbert and other volunteers for their efforts, as well as fans for showing their support.
“That’s it for us, we turned the page. There are some meetings to attend in the off season and some other deadlines to meet, but other than that, the hockey side is over,” MacMillan added.