For the second straight season, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles will start the playoffs on home ice. The club sewed up a minimum of an 8th place finish with a 6-4 victory over the Bathurst Titan on Wednesday night.
Cape Breton wore special green uniforms for the contest, in support of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation and in memory of past president Greg Lynch. With the victory over the Titan it marks four straight years the Eagles have won wearing green. This year’s game got off to a quick start as both teams scored in the opening minute.
First it was Bathurst’s Zachary Malatesta, blasting a shot past Kevin Mandolese from the top of the circle. But just 15 seconds later Vasily Glotov would capitalize on a turnover and put it over Anthony Dumont-Bouchard to tie the game. There would be three more goals in the first frame and special teams would factor into all of them.
Bathurst reclaimed the lead with just one second left on the power play, as Rodrigo Abols cashed in with a goal standing on the door step of the crease. The Titan would get the game’s second man advantage of the night, as well, but the Eagles brought numbers into the visiting end and Giovanni Fiore would feed Ross MacDougall jumping into the play and the Cape Breton blueliner tied the game at two while short handed. Then with the home side on its own power play, Drake Batherson would convert a passing play to give Cape Breton their first lead of the game with under four minutes before the horn.
While both teams would put more shots on goal in the second period, the pace of scoring slowed down significantly, with no goals being scored in the opening fifteen minutes of the middle stanza. The first power play of the second period came at the 13:13 mark, with Bathurst’s Aaron Brisebois in the box, and the Eagles would get their chances. However Brisebois would be hit with a lead pass on his way out of the box and came in on Mandolese on a breakaway.
Mandolese came up with a big save and the play went the other way, as Ty Fournier circled around the net. He found Mathias Laferrière in front of the goal and the Eagle rookie put the puck by Dumont-Bouchard to push the advantage to 4-2. The Eagles carried the two goal edge to the break.
Tyler Hylland would star in the third period for Cape Breton. He cashed in on a rebound to give the Eagles their first three goal cushion at the 6:26 mark. The Titan would get the goal back, though, when Brisebois flew up the right wing and swung around in front of the goal to make it a 5-3 game. Just over two minutes later, Bathurst would earn a power play and an opportunity to close the gap to one.
But Hylland would turn on the jets, soaring into the Titan zone on the penalty kill, coming in on a breakaway and deking through Dumont-Bouchard. His second of the night would give Cape Breton a 6-3 advantage. The Eagles would kill off the rest of the penalty to the secure the victory, although Jordan Maher would score in the final ten seconds to make it a 6-4 final.
Mandolese stopped 25 of 29 shots in the win, while Dumont-Bouchard allowed six goals on 31 shots.
The Eagles now go on the road to finish their regular season, starting with the final instalment of the Battle Of Nova Scotia on Friday night against the Halifax Mooseheads. Puck drop will be at 7:00 pm, and you can hear all the action on 1270 AM CJCB or online at http://www.cjcbradio.com.
Scratches For Cape Breton: Alexis Sansfaçon, Logan O’Neil
Scratches For Bathurst: Dawson Theede (suspension), Elijah Francis (injury), Kynan Berger, Joakim Paradis
Final Shots On Goal: 31-29 in favour of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Power Play: 1/4
Bathurst Power Play: 1/8