Rivalry week has arrived in the QMJHL, and it’s time for the Battle of Nova Scotia to heat up again once more.
For the first time this season, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Halifax Mooseheads will lock horns and they will do so twice on the weekend. It starts tonight in Sydney and the return match goes tomorrow night in Halifax. To further add to the intrigue, the two clubs are part of a three way tie in the QMJHL standings (for seventh place). Thus far this season Cape Breton holds a record of 5-4, while Halifax is 4-2-2. The Screaming Eagles are 2-1 on home ice, while the Mooseheads are 2-2 on the road.
Last season the Eagles won six of nine meetings between the two squads, including two of three games that required overtime. Remarkably, when factoring in playoff and regular season games, each team can claim an 85-85-9 record against the other in what has been an extremely even rivalry since Cape Breton entered the QMJHL in 1997.
Halifax’s forward core is dotted with big names. Overage forward Maxime Fortier will likely challenge for the league scoring title this year, and has collected 12 points over eight games. Benoit-Olivier Groulx, the first overall pick in the 2016 QMJHL draft, has eight points in his last six contests and rookie import Filip Zadina, considered a likely first round NHL draft pick in 2018, has recorded ten points at this point of the season. The secondary scoring of the Mooseheads should also get a boost as Finnish forward Otto Somppi is expected to return from injury to play his first game of the season this evening.
The Mooseheads will be looking to get back in the win column, having lost three straight games, although two of those defeats came in overtime. Meanwhile the Screaming Eagles will look to build off a 4-2 home ice victory over Charlottetown on Wednesday.
Tyler Hylland opened the scoring on Wednesday with a penalty shot, the first of four different Cape Breton players to score on the night. The Eagles are also getting offense from the blueline as Adam McCormick is averaging a point a game in his last four matches. After a slow start to the season offensively the Screaming Eagles have scored at least three goals in their last outings. Drake Batherson has been producing from the beginning of the season, with six goals on the campaign.
In addition to tonight’s rivalry matchup, the Screaming Eagles will also honour the 2017 Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League champion Sydney Sooners. Puck drop for the game is at 7 PM. Go Eagles Go!