The Screaming Eagles struck first late, and then came back late to record a shootout victory in Halifax on Wednesday. The Eagles 3-2 victory snapped a five game winning streak for the Mooseheads.
Prior to a frantic final 20 minutes of regulation and overtime, the opening 40 minutes were tentative with not much in the way of quality of scoring chances. The Eagles thought they had the opening goal in the first period when Egor Sokolov rang one off the iron. It was called a goal at ice level but was overturned after a lengthy goal review. It was scoreless after the opening period.
Neither team would hit the twine in the second period, as Cape Breton’s Kevin Mandolese would deny the Mooseheads on a three on one chance late in the period. The Eagles had two power plays in the second stanza as Samuel Asselin was sent to the sin bin twice in succession late in the period, with the second minor carrying over to the third period. But there were no power play goals to be found and it was scoreless through two periods. The shots were 11-8 in favour of the Eagles after 40 minutes.
Mathias Laferrière would open the scoring at the 8:22 mark of the third period for the visitors, digging the puck from Alexis Gravel and backhanding it by the Mooseheads netminder. The Eagles would also receive some excellent netminding in the third period, as Mandolese made a spectacular save on a two on one between Xavier Parent and Antoine Morand.
Halifax would find their tying goal at the 10:30 mark, however. Denis Toner blasted a shot from the blueliner that was tipped by Samuel Asselin past Mandolese. And the Mooseheads would find a go ahead goal with just over two minutes left courtesy of Ben Higgins who collected the rebound after a heavy Justin Barron shot.
But the game would take one more twist and Mitchell Balmas would earn a breakaway. He drove the net and drew a penalty, but continued his progress on the breakaway and put the puck just between Gravel’s pad and the post and sent the game to overtime.
The two teams would trade chances a plenty in overtime. Arnaud Durandeau would rip a shot off the post on one end, and at the other end Gravel would deny Ryan Francis on a two on one with a sensational glove save.
Overtime was not enough and the game would head to a shootout. The first shooter, Halifax’s Antoine Morand, thought he had scored but the play was ruled dead and the shootout continued. Through five shooters, no one had scored, and Declan Smith had a chance to win it for the Screaming Eagles. After his shot was saved by Gravel, the shootout headed into its sudden death portion.
There will still no goals as the shootout headed into the fifth round and Marcel Barkina would be denied in Halifax’s fifth shot of the shootout. It was up to Ryan Francis, and he would secure the victory for the Eagles by lifting a backhand up over Gravel for a Cape Breton victory.
Mandolese turned aside 19 of 21 shots in the win, while Gravel stopped 17 of 19 shots.
The Screaming Eagles now continue their road trip in Bathurst on Friday against the Titan. Puck drop is at 7 PM. You can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 6:30 on 1270 AM CJCB or online at www.cjcbradio.com.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton) 19 saves on 21 shots
2. Mathias Laferrière (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 4 shots
3. Patrick Kyte (Halifax) 1 shot
Scratches For Cape Breton: Alex Drover, Leon Gawanke (Division 1A World Juniors)
Scratches For Halifax: Ostap Safin (injury), Raphaël Lavoie (Hockey Canada), Jared McIssac (Hockey Canada), Samuel Dube (injury), Cole Stewart (injury)
Final Shots On Goal: 21-19 in favour of Halifax