The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Gatineau Olympiques have plenty of experience being even with each other, and heading into tonight’s game, the two clubs are tied in the QMJHL standings.
Thursday’s game is the first meeting of the two sides since last year’s epic seven game playoff series, a series that went to overtime of the deciding seventh game and was won on a goal by now overage forward Jordan Ty Fournier of Cape Breton. It was the third overtime game of the series.
Heading into this evening, Cape Breton and Gatineau are tied for tenth in the QMJHL standings, each club being three points behind ninth place and three points ahead of 12th place. The Olympiques (14-10-4) hold a game in hand on the Screaming Eagles (15-12-2). Gatineau, who is playing their first road game in the Maritime Division tonight, is 5-5-3 away from home, while Cape Breton is 8-5-1 at Centre 200.
As was the case in the playoff series last year, Gatineau has frequently used both of its goaltenders this season, and has received good numbers from both. Tristan Bérubé leads the QMJHL in save percentage with a mark of .924 through 16 appearances while Mathieu Bellemare has compiled a respectable .902 mark through 13 games.
Eleven players remain on the Olympiques roster from last year’s playoff showdown, as well as returning head coach, former Cape Breton Oiler Eric Landry. Sydney native Mitchell Balmas currently leads the team in scoring with 27 points through 29 games. Another familiar face, although he did not play in the QMJHL post-season last year, is former Screaming Eagle Anthony Beauchamp. This season the 19 year old forward has 12 points over 28 contests.
Cape Breton comes into the game looking to build on a winning streak, after a perfect weekend with a road win in Moncton and a win at home over Val-d’Or. Captain Phélix Martineau has paced the attack with a point a game through 29 outings, and members of the support staff have stepped up including Peyton Hoyt who has give goals in his last five games. Screaming Eagles forward Drake Batherson received some great news on Wednesday when he was named to Team Canada’s World Junior team training camp, and the Eagles hope to see him in action before he heads to the tryout.
One Eagle has already left for international duty as Leon Gawanke will represent Germany at the Division 1 World Junior championship. The defensive depth will be tested as in addition to Gawanke’s absence, Sacha Roy is serving the second game of a two game suspension and Ross MacDougall and Noah Laaouan have missed recent games due to lower body injuries. In goal Kyle Jessiman has started the last four games, with a .912 save percentage in that time period.
Tonight’s game goes at 7 PM. Go Eagles Go!