PORT HAWKESBURY: It was a battle of the two best teams in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League’s Sid Rowe Division as the Strait Pirates hosted the Antigonish Bulldogs last Friday. The Pirates won 4-2.
“We took over first place in the Sid Rowe, beat the Bulldogs, and we’re going into the break playing really good hockey,” said Pirate coach Taylor Lambke.
“We’re in first place right now, but they have a couple games in hand, so if we want any chance of taking first in the division, we had to win. We’ll play them in January too, and that might give us a chance if we keep playing good hockey.
“We just want to keep building with our team, one game at a time, and keep getting better and better. I think we’re playing our best stretch of hockey going into the break.”
The Friday night game saw the teams stalemated during a scoreless first, but the Pirates connected for three goals in the second to take control of the game.
Prior to that scoring, Bulldog Andrew Boyle got the drop on Pirate backstop Cody Smith, giving the ‘Dogs a one-goal lead with 3:15 played.
Shortly after that, with 5:30 played, Pirate Branden Dauphinee finished with a one-timer on a Matthew Raike feed to tie the game. Also assisting was Brendan Kenneth Lanning.
Just 39 seconds later, Josh Foster (from Olan Spears and Kier Jordan) let a rocket go from the top of the circle to beat Antigonish goalie Cody MacEachern low on the blocker side.
At 10:09, Spears (from Jacob Keagan and Cullen MacEachern) went to the backhand to score the Pirates’ third of the night.
Early in the third, former Cape Breton West Islander Fearghus MacDonald (unassisted) brought the Bulldogs to within a goal of tying, but it was Dauphinee (from Avery Warner and Keagan) who scored next. That goal came with 1:01 played on an empty net.
“It was a very solid game,” Lambke said. “Our players are getting comfortable in our system; it’s becoming second nature where we want to be on the ice and what position we want to be in.
“The big thing now is to recharge and come back in the second half with a ton of energy and ready to go after a championship.”
The Pirates are the top gun in the Sid Rowe with a 14-5-1-2 record, sitting them two points ahead of the Bulldogs (14-4-1-0) and three points ahead of the Glace Bay Miners (13-2-1-1). However, as the coach pointed out, both the Bulldogs and Miners have games in hand on the Strait: three for Antigonish, and four for Glace Bay.
The Pirates return to action with a road game against the Liverpool Privateers on January 4. The Strait will be home again on Friday, January 10, when hosting the Eskasoni Eagles.