It’s a new year but the same winning streak for the Screaming Eagles, as Cape Breton pushed its winning streak to five games with a 6-3 win in its 2017 opener in Saint John against the Sea Dogs.
Saint John struck first, though, and it appeared they would leave the opening period with the lead. At the 11:21 mark Bailey Webster found clear space near the blueline and blasted a shot towards the Cape Breton goal, which would be tipped by Matthew Highmore to put the home side ahead. However, before the period could end, the Eagles would be given a power play opportunity and Giovanni Fiore would hammer home a shot from the right dot with just sixteen seconds remaining before the buzzer. With the goal Fiore pushed his goal scoring streak to five games.
Cape Breton would kill the penalty to their key forward- as he was coming out of the penalty box, Martineau stayed just onside to be hit with a lead pass from Declan Smith and would race in to beat Sea Dogs netminder Callum Booth. Prior to the halfway mark of the middle frame, the Eagles would push the lead to 3-1. Massimo Carozza attempted a cross crease pass to Giovanni Fiore. Instead of hitting the intended target, it bounced off Saint John defenseman David Comeau’s leg- and past Booth.
Both sides would then trade goals before period’s end. Nathan Noel would cut the deficit for Saint John on the man advantage. Noel sold the pass option and then whipped the puck under the arm of the unsuspecting Kevin Mandolese. Mandolese’s club would restore the two goal cushion on Martineau’s second goal of the period. Eagles captain, and former Sea Dogs captain Olivier LeBlanc wired a shot from the point which Martineau tipped before Booth could react.
Booth’s night would end not long into the third period as Carozza found himself in front of the net on the power play. Collecting his own rebound he would slide it by Booth for a power play goal and spelling the end of the night for the Dogs keeper at the 2:24 mark. It was the first three goal lead of the night for either team.
Special teams would help get Saint John back into the game later in the period. Just past the five minute mark Highmore was given the gate for slashing and the Cape Breton power play, having already scored three goals, was going to get a chance to extend the lead. But the Highmore penalty was followed by an interference call against Ty Fournier and a tripping call against Marcus Tesink.
A 5 on 4 for Cape Breton would turn into a 4 on 3, and then 5 on 3 for Saint John. The Sea Dogs stretched out the three Eagles skaters and Joe Veleno buried the puck past Mandolese from the right side of the ice. But Saint John could not get any closer on the 5 on 4, which would be the last man advantage for either team.
Danny Flynn elected to lift Alex D’Orio (who relieved Booth after the fifth Eagle goal) early, opting for six attackers for the final two minutes and thirty seconds. His club did not create much in the way of chances and Carozza fired a long distance shot to hit the empty net, complete the hat trick and seal the deal for the Screaming Eagles.
Mandolese picked up the win in goal, stopping 32 shots. Booth was given the loss, allowing five goals on 24 shots. D’Orio stopped four shots in relief in addition to the empty netter.
Kyle McGrath, who was acquired earlier in the week by the Screaming Eagles as part of the deal that sent Dillon Boucher to Charlottetown, made his QMJHL debut. He is on the Cape Breton roster on the current road trip as an affiliate player. In addition to the Boucher swap, Cape Breton announced on Wednesday that Tobie Bisson would be moved to Blainville-Boisbriand in exchange for a third round draft pick.
The Eagles continue their road trip Friday night in Charlottetown. It’s the first of a two game set against the Islanders. Puck drop for Friday’s game is 7 PM and you can hear all the action on 1270 AM CJCB or online at http://www.cjcbradio.com
1. Phélix Martineau (Cape Breton) 2 goals, 1 assist, 5 shots
2. Olivier LeBlanc (Cape Breton) 3 assists
3. Matthew Highmore (Saint John) 1 goal, 5 shots
Scratches For Cape Breton: Tyler Hylland (upper body injury), Pierre-Luc Dubois (World Juniors)
Scratches For Saint John: Thomas Chabot (World Juniors), Spencer Smallman (injury), Matt Green (injury), Chase Stewart, Jakub Zboril (World Juniors)
Final Shots On Goal: 35-29 in favour of Saint John
Cape Breton Power Play: 3/6