SYDNEY- Round one of the Battle of Nova Scotia goes to the Screaming Eagles following a 4-3 thriller at Centre 200 on Friday night.
The game’s opening twenty minutes did not show many signs of a high scoring affair, with neither team able to light the lamp and the dangerous opportunities being limited at both ends. Both teams had their opportunity on the man advantage, with the Mooseheads killing off a penalty to Joel Bishop and the Eagles killing off a pair of minors to Drake Batherson, who would make a more significant impact before night’s end.
Special teams would take up a greater portion of the second stanza. Good pressure from the Screaming Eagles would earn consecutive power plays in the middle of the period, but the best opportunity would come to Maxime Fortier of the Mooseheads who would earn a short handed breakway. With some help from a backchecking Phélix Martineau, Kevin Mandolese would turn aside the chance.
But Halifax would score at even strength to open the scoring at the 14:45 mark of period two. Filip Zadina did a loop deep in the Cape Breton zone, opening space for himself and putting it just over Mandolese. However, before period’s end, Batherson would draw a penalty on Justin Barron and the Eagles would cash in on the man advantage. Martineau found Jordan Ty Fournier all alone in front of the goal and he beat Alexis Gravel in tight to knot the game.
The final power play of the period would come to the Mooseheads, but both teams could earn chances- including Cape Breton earning a three on zero. Tyler Hylland let the attack alongside Ross MacDougall and Mathias Laferrière. Hylland elected to keep the puck but couldn’t get it by Gravel.
Halifax would get a prime scoring chance at the very end of the period. Jocktan Chainey had the puck on his stick with less than a second to play but Mandolese lunged forward with the glove to deny the Mooseheads blueliner.
1-1 was the score heading into the third period, but it would not remain that way for long. Batherson cut out from behind the goal and found Ryan Francis in the slot and he whipped it over the shoulder of Gravel just 38 seconds into the frame to give the Eagles their first lead of the night. Batherson would make it a two goal cushion before the midway mark when he came up the left wing and put it under Gravel’s glove.
Once again special teams would play a factor on the night when Cape Breton’s Justin Lazure was sent off for high sticking at 11:15, and once again there would be a short handed opportunity. Martineau would pull in a pass from Batherson on his backhand, push the puck to his forehand and slide it through the legs of Gravel to push the margin to three goals. Halifax would score on the same power play as Connor Moynihan used a screen to beat Mandolese and make it a two goal game again.
Just 23 seconds later Zadina would cut the margin to just one goal, breaking through in the neutral zone and beating Mandolese on a breakaway. With over six minutes remaining it was once again a one goal game. In the final minute Halifax coach Jim Midgley would lift Gravel for an extra attacker, but the Mooseheads couldn’t find the tying goal and the Screaming Eagles took the first meeting of Nova Scotian rivals in 2017-18.
Mandolese picked up the win, stopping 29 of the 32 shots. Gravel allowed four goals on 27 shots in the loss.
It’s the same two clubs going at it tomorrow night as the Rivalry Week series switches to Halifax. Puck drop at the Scotiabank Centre is at 7 PM and you can catch all the action starting with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 6:30 on 1270 AM CJCB or online at http://www.cjcbradio.com.
DAIRY QUEEN THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Drake Batherson (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 2 assists, +3
2. Filip Zadina (Halifax) 2 goals, 9 shots
3. Ryan Francis (Cape Breton) 1 goal
Scratches For Cape Breton: Gabriel Proulx (injury), Kyle McGrath (broken collarbone) Ryan MacLellan
Scratches For Halifax: Walter Flower, Jordan Lepage, Kyle Petten
Final Shots On Goal: 32-27 in favour of Halifax
Cape Breton Power Play: 1/4
Halifax Power Play: 1/4