Bulldogs lead, Pirates trail playoff series

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Canadian Tire Strait Pirates are facing elimination, and even if they win Tuesday night, they will still be trailing their playoff series.

Prior to their game on March 23 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, the Pirates were down 3-0 in their best-of-four Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (NSJHL) series versus the Junior Miners.

“It is what it is, all we can do is try to win one game tomorrow night,” assistant coach Tim MacMillan told The Reporter. “Our guys are giving everything they have, so it’s certainly not a work problem. The guys are playing and they’re battling. It’s been tough sledding so far.”

In the series opener on March 16, the Junior Miners fired 58 shots on goal to skate to a 10-1 win over the Pirates with Lewis Taylor, from Jack Nielson and Gregor Yoell, getting the lone goal for the visitors.

On March 20 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, the Junior Miners scored three times in the second and dented the mesh three more times in the third to earn a 6-2 victory over the Pirates.

This time, the Pirates were able to fire 31 shots on net, and after Matthew Ellis, assisted by Cameron Gillis and Jake Henderson, opened scoring in the first to get the home side to a quick 1-0 lead, the Miners came storming back. Ellis scored his second of the night, unassisted, in the second period.

The next night at the Membertou Health and Wellness Centre, the Miners won 8-2 and fired 45 shots on goal. Cameron Gillis continued his strong play heading into playoffs with a goal, assisted by Avery Warner, as well as an assist on Jake Henderson’s goal late in the second period.

MacMillan said the goaltending has not been a problem, but building on early leads, and stopping the Miners from scoring in bunches have been.

“We’ve had good starts in game 2 and game 3, really good starts; getting the first goal, getting a lot of scoring chances, frustrating the opposition but not getting that second goal when you’re up one to get up two, get up three and then you can really play a style that would frustrate the opposition,” MacMillan said. “We just haven’t been able to break through and get that second goal. The Miners are such a good team, eventually they break you down. They’re really good.”

Meanwhile up Highway 104, the Antigonish AA Munro Junior Bulldogs lead their best-of-four playoff series 2-1 over the Pictou Scotians.

On March 14, the Bulldogs took the first game 5-3 at the Antigonish Arena, then beat the Scotians on the road 4-1 on March 18. Pictou avoid a 3-0 series deficit with a 4-1 win on March 21 in Antigonish.

Antigonish hosted Pictou on March 23, and will play them again at the Antigonish Arena on March 26. If necessary, the two teams are scheduled to return to the Trenton Arena on March 28, and to the Antigonish Arena on March 29.