SYDNEY- Zack MacEwen started the attack, Mitchell Balmas finished it, and the Gatineau Olympiques pushed the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to a game seven with a 5-1 victory at Centre 200 on Monday night to tie the series at 3.
It was scoreless through the first ten minutes of the opening period before MacEwen broke the game open, coming up the wing and putting it under Jessiman- the puck just squeaking under the Eagle netminder who initially thought he had it. At the 11:06 mark the Olympiques had the 1-0 lead- and MacEwen would double the advantage less than thirty seconds later, deking around almost every Eagle player for a nifty individual effort and his sixth goal of the playoffs.
There would be push back from the Eagles though. Marc-André Dumont elected to call a timeout after the second Gatineau goal, and shortly after Ty Fournier would drive the net, sweeping around the goaltender Tristan Bérubé, and Yannik Bertrand would jam in the rebound to make it a 2-1 scoreline. The Eagles trailed by one at the break.
A golden opportunity for Gatineau would became a Cape Breton man advantage early in the middle stanza. In the opening minute Yakov Trenin came in on a two on one, and rather than elect to pass he swarmed the net, bowling over Kyle Jessiman and taking a goaltender interference penalty. It would become a theme as before the midway mark of regulation Anthony Gagnon bowled over Jessiman after failing to score on a breakaway and was sent off.
With Gagnon in the box, Cape Breton sent out their top power play unit and they were out for a full minute and forty seconds before it appeared that Drake Batherson tied the game. But after a lengthy review, the goal would be overturned as it was ruled Massimo Carozza had caused incidental goaltender interference. The score remained 2-1 but due to the lengthy delay the Eagles top power play unit stayed out on the ice.
The faceoff was moved into the neutral zone, the puck dropped behind the blueline and Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin flung the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, giving Cape Breton a brief 5 on 3 and an extension on the power play. But the Eagles couldn’t find the back of the net. Just two minutes after the Crevier-Morin penalty expired, Balmas would pick up his own rebound and wire it through traffic to push the edge to 3-1.
Balmas was at it again early in the third frame, converting a feed from behind the net from Trenin and at the 2:48 mark the Olympiques had a 4-1 lead. Cape Breton was unable to muster any offense and by the halfway mark would find themselves in penalty trouble. Just eighteen seconds later, Massimo Carozza would be penalised for boarding and Balmas would complete his natural hat trick on the two man advantage, finishing the scoring for the evening.
Bérubé would pick up the win, stopping 28 of 29 shots. Jessiman allowed five goals on 32 shots.
The deciding game seven will go at Centre 200 on Tuesday night, just the second time Sydney has hosted such a game. The box office will open at 9 AM and in addition to tickets being available there they can also be purchased by calling 902-564-2200 or online at https://tickets.capebreton.ca/Online/default.asp
1. Mitchell Balmas (Gatineau) 3 goals, 5 shots
2. Zack MacEwen (Gatineau) 2 goals, +2, 4 shots
3. Peyton Hoyt (Cape Breton) 6 hits
Scratches For Cape Breton: Olivier Bourret, Sacha Roy
Scratches For Gatineau: Ryan O’Bonsawin, Eric Eschweiler, Mathieu Bellemarre (injury)
Final Shots On Goal: 32-29 in favour of Gatineau
Cape Breton Power Play: 0/6
Gatineau Power Play: 1/3