PORT HAWKESBURY: After falling behind 3-1 in their best-of-seven series against the Antigonish Bulldogs, the Strait Pirates fought back to force a Tuesday night showdown in an all-important game seven.
“Tomorrow night, we hope the place will be jammed and rocking,” said Pirate coach Taylor Lambke.
“We knew they were going to play hard. Maybe they are a fourth place team in the division, but they’re a much better team than that. We knew they’d make this a series. If you asked them before the series if they were going to win it, they’d have said yes.
“We just need one game to move on, and we feel good about that.”
The Bulldogs were poised to win the series last Friday, but the Strait managed a 4-3 overtime win at the Civic Centre. Last Sunday in Antigonish, the Strait scored three goals in the final frame to manage a 4-2 win.
“I noticed in the last two or three games, around the 10 minute mark of the third period, they seem to get a little tired and we still have lots of energy. It was the same thing last night. We got a big goal from Randon [MacKinnon] on the power play, and we came back and scored again. That’s the key. You have to keep moving forward.
“I tip my cap to Antigonish. They played a great series, and Dave [Synishin] is a great coach. He has them ready for every game, and they’re right there in the series.”
Last Friday, the Pirates came out hard early, running up a three-goal lead in the first period. Scoring for the Strait were Cullen MacEachern (from Christain Papineau and Olan Spears), Matthew Morgan (from Josh Foster and MacKinnon), and Hunter Woodland (from Spears and Papineau). The Morgan goal was on a power play.
Pirate Avery Warner came close to making it 4-0, as he was awarded a penalty shot just after the Pirates’ third goal. Bulldog goalie Jared Green, who faced 23 shots in total, stopped Warner.
Warner got his revenge in overtime, as he scored the game winner on a set-up by Bryce Reynolds and Papineau.
Replying for the Bulldogs were Tyler Dyke (from Andrew Boyle and Jacob David Nobbe), Devin MacLaughlin (from Connor Fraser and Ryan Kennedy), and Fearghus MacDonald (from Nobbe and Spencer Barron).
Pirate goalie Cody Smith faced 32 shots.
On Sunday, Woodland was getting things done for the Strait. He had an early goal in the first period (from Jacob Keagan), and he also scored the Strait’s winning goal in the third (from Spears). Also scoring in the final 20 minutes were MacKinnon (from Keagan and Morgan) and Branden Dauphinee (unassisted) on an empty net.
The Bulldog scoring came late in the first period, giving the hosts a temporary one goal-lead. MacLaughlin (from Nobbe) and Nobbe (unassisted) handled the Antigonish scoring.
Green stopped 25 of 28 shots for the Bulldogs, and Smith stopped 34 of 36 for the Strait.
“We’re fighting,” Lambke said. “We’re had some good games.”
The Tuesday night game starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre.