Back in 1820, the British colony of Cape Breton was merged with Nova Scotia and the capital shifted from Sydney to Halifax – two cities and regions with significantly different challenges at the time.
A rivalry was born.
This Battle of Nova Scotia has more recently taken to the ice at Centre 200 in Sydney and Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, home of the QMJHL’s Screaming Eagles and Mooseheads. Although this clash goes far beyond hockey and the first encounter between these squads in October 1997, the 20thanniversary of this QMJHL rivalry and its subsequent bragging rights will be on the line as both teams prepare for the Rivalry Weekend on October 13-14.
Thanks to Cape Breton’s six head-to-head wins in nine games last season, including a sweep of the Hurley Cup series, each team now holds an 85-85-9 record in regular season and playoff action combined against one another. The Screaming Eagles also hold a 609-590 edge in all-time goals scored in this rivalry. Say what you will about the key milestones this clash has seen over the years, the focus in the here and now for both squads will be to conclude the two-game series on top.
Introduced last winter, the Hurley Cup is awarded annually to the champion of the Battle of Nova Scotia in December, symbolizing junior hockey supremacy in the province. The trophy was named in honour of the Irish field sport first played in Nova Scotia around 1800 and that is widely believed to be the birth of ice hockey.
The Screaming Eagles won the first Hurley Cup on December 30-31, 2016 after defeating the Mooseheads 6-3 in front of a season-high crowd of 4,347 fans at Centre 200 in Sydney on December 30, before doubling down on New Year’s Eve in Halifax with a 5-2 victory before 8,944 spectators at Scotiabank Centre – the second-biggest crowd of the 2016-17 season in Nova Scotia’s capital.
One player to keep an eye on with the Screaming Eagles is the current scoring leader and Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson, who has 11 points in nine career games (5-6-11) against Halifax, including a pair of goals and an assist in last season’s matchups.
Maxime Fortier, a Mooseheads’ overage right winger and Montreal Canadiens’ prospect, will be looking to ground the Screaming Eagles, having picked up 20 points in 18 games against Cape Breton over the past two seasons. He is also off to another great start this season with seven points in Halifax’s first five games.
The 2017 edition of the Battle of Nova Scotia begins on Friday, October 13 at Centre 200 in Sydney before heading down to the capital city for the return leg the following night at Scotiabank Centre.