PORT HAWKESBURY: The Strait Pirates remain one of the teams to beat in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, as the maroon and white are sitting pretty with a 5-2-1 record (w-l-shootout loss), but the guys were unable to pull the trigger against the Cole Harbour Colts last Sunday.
The 3-2 loss was resolved in a shootout. It was also played at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, which is a rarity for NSJHL action. The Pirates generally play their home games on Friday nights, but a Celtic Colours concert was taking place.
“The game was on our stick twice in the shootout, but we couldn’t get the job done,” said coach Taylor Lambke. “We need to have some guys step up and start scoring some goals, and we’ll win more hockey games. But overall, it was a pretty good game.”
Losing a tight game like that might help the Pirates down the stretch, Lambke said. He noted that last year, the Pirates sailed through the regular season but, come playoffs, the Antigonish Bulldogs came out of nowhere to lead their first round series 3-1.
“We had to learn on the fly how to deal with that,” he said. “We’re learning early on in the season some of these lessons.”
Lambke said he feels the Pirates last three games were their best outings of the year.
“It’s a tight league, and everything matters. Your structure matters, your discipline matters, your goal scoring matters. I think we’re getting better each and every game.”
Last Friday, the Pirates were on the road to the Valley where they dropped the Maple Leafs 6-3. He said that game was the very best 60 minutes his guys played all year.
The Friday night game saw both Pirate goalie Cody Smith and Valley netminder Aidan Durnford contend with 18 shots in the first frame, but neither goalie allowed a goal.
The second period was a different matter, as Valley player Ryan MacDonald gave his crew a one-goal lead with 7:31 played. The Strait connected for four consecutive goals after that, with Josh Foster (from Jordan Etheridge and Cruz Pazos), Hunter Woodland (from Bryce Reynolds and Ty Tracey), Foster (from Austin Woodland and Joshua MacMillan), and MacMillan (unassisted) all dented the mesh. With 1:14 left in the period, Maple Leaf Finn Reeves made it a 4-2 game.
The second period also saw a little fisticuff action, with Pirate Owen Higgins and Taylor Brown throwing knuckles.
Reeves had a third goal period as well, but only after Pazos (from Foster and Logan Gillis) and Cullen MacEachern (from Woodland and Jason Johnson) popped two for the Strait.
The Valley outshot the Strait 47-45.
On Sunday, the Pirates and Colts skated for two scoreless periods before either Smith or his Cole Harbour counterpart, Zachary Mason, allowed a goal.
MacMillan had both goals for the Strait, the first was a power play goal (from Branden Dauphinee and Pazos) with just 20 seconds on the clock. After goals from Cole Harbour’s Liam Kilmurray and Will MacRae, MacMillan (from Johnson) scored again on a shorthanded opportunity. That goal was at 7:15, and set the score at 2-2 for the remainder of regulation time.
This Friday, the Pirates host the Brookfield Elks at 7:30 p.m.