For the first time this season, the Screaming Eagles will play a road game in their home province. Saturday sees the Cape Breton cross the Causeway and visit the provincial capital for the first time in 2017-18. It’s the back end of a home and home series in the QMJHL’s rivalry week, and part one saw the Eagles reign supreme 4-3 on home ice.
Friday’s contest at Centre 200 was tightly contested and while the Mooseheads scored the opening goal and outshot the Screaming Eagles, it was the Eagles that were victorious. Halifax will look to build off a strong finish to the game that saw a rally from down 4-1 fall short. Filip Zadina was the story of the game for the Mooseheads, scoring twice. For Cape Breton, Drake Batherson recovered from a rough first period in which he took two minors, and notched three points in the final forty minutes en route to being named the game’s first star.
Kevin Mandolese shone in goal for the Screaming Eagles, stopping 29 of 32 shots in the win, while Cape Breton was able to put four past Alexis Gravel on 27 shots. But it’s quite likely fans in Halifax see an entirely different matchup in goal tonight. This season Gravel has started five of nine games, and his crease mate overager Blade Mann-Dixon has posted the the better save percentage (.930 vs .879).
For Marc-André Dumont’s Screaming Eagles, the rotation has been even more consistent- neither Kyle Jessiman (.895) nor Kevin Mandolese (.910) has started two consecutive games. Interestingly enough, while Mandolese has the better save percentage, Jessiman has the superior win loss record (4-1, as opposed to Mandolese’s 2-3.)
Two Screaming Eagles rookies from Nova Scotia, Noah Laaouan and Ryan Francis, received their first taste of the provincial rivalry last night. While both are from the Halifax area, their loyalty now lies to Cape Breton and last night saw Francis score a key goal to put the Eagles ahead at the the beginning of the third period. Other Nova Scotians on the two rosters this season are Cape Breton’s Declan Smith and Ryan MacLellan along with the Halifax contingent of Justin Barron, Brett Crossley, Ben Higgins, Barrett Dachyshyn,Walter Flower, Jared McIssac, and Mann-Dixon.
Coming into tonight’s contest, Cape Breton boasts a record of 6-4 (3-3 on the road) while Halifax sits at 4-3-2 (2-0-2) at home. The Screaming Eagles have won two straight games, while the Mooseheads are on a four game losing streak (with two losses coming in overtime.)
Today’s game goes at 7:00 PM Atlantic time, and you can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30 on 1270 CJCB with Patrick McNeil. Go Eagles Go!