PORT HAWKESBURY: The Canadian Tire Strait Pirates lost their final two games of the year as the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League pressed the pause button.
On Friday night at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, the Pirates lost 6-2 to the Junior Miners, with Blake Hadley getting both goals, including a short-handed marker.
Although they were only out-shot 30-26, the Pirates surrendered a short-handed goal early in the first period, then two power-play goals, and finally three more short-handed goals.
“I’ve been in and out of coaching for the past 24 years, of course played a lot longer than that, and I’ve never seen that before, that was a first,” assistant coach Tim MacMillan said of the four short-handed goals against. “If we do anything half decently on our power-play, that’s a game we should win. But we didn’t. That falls on us, me, Taylor and Kenny as coaches. We have to eat that one as a group. That’s a coach’s loss right there.”
Then on Sunday night at the Antigonish Arena, the Antigonish AA Munro Junior Bulldogs handed the Pirates a 5-2 loss.
For the home side, team scoring leader Sam Mattie had two goals and two assists, while Jayden Muise had two points for the visitors.
After Muise made it 3-2 after 40 minutes of play, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach with two third period goals, including Mattie’s second of the night with six minutes left to play.
“It was a heck of a hockey game. As fast a game as you’ll find. It’s too bad only 150 people could see it because it’s really the best of our league,” MacMillan noted. “It was unbelievable pace that game was played at last night in play-off style hockey. That’s how it should be.”
Although they surrendered five goals and Antigonish logged 43 shots on goal, MacMillan said it was a better game for the Pirates than Friday night.
“Josh Leudy played in net last night and we was terrific. I think he deserved a better outcome than five goals against,” he said. “Antigonish’s top line went to work and scored some beautiful goals. They didn’t get garbage goals, they scored some quality goals. I was pleased with the effort. Our effort made for a terrific game of hockey.”
On November 27 during an emergency meeting, the NSJHL’s board of governors voted to suspend league operations effective December 1.
After what the NSJHL termed “considerable discussion,” about whether Antigonish and the Strait, as well as Eskasoni and the Junior Miners, should be permitted to play since they are the only four teams allowed even under new the directives handed down by Nova Scotia Public Health, the board decided to suspend all league play until the end of the Christmas break.
MacMillan noted that the Pirates were allowed to play their games on the weekend by the league, but they only had another week of games left on the schedule.
“We got clarification today, there’s to be no activities. There’s no team activities allowed,” MacMillan stated. “We can’t practice or even get together in shape or form.”
The board of governors also agreed to meet again on Sunday, December 15 to discuss what the league schedule might look like in 2021.
MacMillan said a lot can change by the time 2021 arrives.
“There’s lots we don’t know. Will the schedule look the same, will there be 20 games in the second half, we don’t know those things,” MacMillan added. “At this point, there are so many unknowns.”