PORT HAWKESBURY: With playoffs looming, Junior Pirate coach Taylor Lambke said he likes the effort he’s seeing out of his squad even though wins were hard to come by last weekend.
“The losses were disappointing, but I think we battled hard in both,” he told The Reporter Tuesday morning. “We were short some players with injuries and some guys away on reading week. We might have been short, but the guys who were there battled hard.
“We made some mistakes that cost us the game, but their work ethic was where it needed to be.”
Last Sunday in Port Hawkesbury, the Pirates hosted the Eskasoni Junior Eagles and lost 4-3 in overtime.
The Eagles held a one-goal lead twice in the first period, but the Strait bounced back to tie it 2-2 in the second. The third period saw the Pirates pull ahead but, thanks to a power play goal with just over three minutes left, an extra frame was needed.
Oland Spears and Jordan Etheridge led Strait scoring, with a goal and assist each; Keagan had two helpers; Branden Dauphinee had a goal, and managing assists were Jason Johnson and Ty Tracey. Eagles outshot the Pirates 28-27, and Hunter Forance was in net for the Strait.
Last Saturday, the Pirates visited the Glace Bay Miners and came out on the low end of a 3-1 final. Outshot 44-25, Avery Warner (from Jacob Keagan and Owen Higgins) had a goal late in the third for the maroon and white. Cody Smith was backstopping the Strait.
“I liked our puck management Saturday night,” the coach said. “We managed the puck well in the neutral zone, we got in there and forechecked, but we didn’t take advantage of all our opportunities.”
On Thursday, the Pirates skated to an 8-5 home ice win over the Pictou Scotians.
The Strait jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of 20 minutes, and then a 5-1 lead midway through the second. Pictou battled back to make it 5-3 at the end of 40 minutes, but the Pirates outscored the visitors 3-2 in the third to round outscoring. The Strait outshot Pictou 48-39.
Leading scoring were Josh Foster, three goals and an assist; Spears and Keagan, a goal and two assists each; Dauphinee, Matthew Raike, and Joshua MacMillan, two assists each; Austin Woodland, Cullen MacEachern, Cruz Pazos, each with a goal; and Jordan Etheridge, Gregor Yoell, and Johnson, each with an assist. Smith was in net.
The Pirates are locked into third place in the Sid Rowe division, but their first round playoff opponent is still up in the air. The Antigonish Bulldogs and Glace Bay Miners are battling to decide who finishes first and second in the division (at least as of Tuesday morning).
This Friday, the Pirates play their final regular season game on the road against Cumberland County.