Pirates and Miners set for first round of Junior playoffs

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Strait Pirates (19-9-2-2) finished the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League regular season with an 8-6 win over the Cumberland County Blues last Friday and, this Wednesday, play-offs get rolling.

“We were short-benched, but we said let’s make sure we play the last period of the regular season the right way,” said coach Taylor Lambke. “We started scoring and kept building, and all of a sudden it was tied and we kept scoring from there.”

Nursing an extremely short bench – 10 skaters – the Pirates were down 5-0 in the early going of the second. The Pirates ended up rallying back after the first five minutes of the second, but the score was still 6-3 for the Blues going into the final 20 minutes. At that point, the maroon and white connected for five unanswered goals.

Branden Dauphinee (two goals and two assists) and Joshua MacMillan (a goal and three helpers) headlined the Strait’s scoring effort, with Jordan Etheridge (two goals) and Olan Spears and Jason Johnson (a goal and assist each) all cortibuting as well. Jacob Keagan had two helpers, and Matthew Raike had a goal.

Pirate Hunter Forance faced 40 shots.

Now, the Pirates and Glace Bay Miners will battle in the first round of play-offs.

The series begins Wednesday in Glace Bay and continues this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. Game three takes place Saturday in Membertou, and game four will be on Friday, March 6, in Port Hawkesbury.

“It’s going to be a hard-fought series,” Lambke said. “I think they’re one of the best teams in the league, and it’s a veteran group over there, but our guys are excited to get it going.”

The Pirates will be calling up a few Major Midget Islanders for their playoff run, the coach said. Islanders Jack Hartery, Dan Gillis, Brant Timmons, and James Beaton are all slated to be wearing Pirate colours for the foreseeable future.

“They’ll add some support and depth,” the coach said. “Our guys are excited to get going.

“We’re excited for a good crowd this Friday. Be loud and support us.”