MONCTON- The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are heading into a playoff showdown with the Gatineau Olympiques on a five game winning streak.
Cape Breton cemented themselves in the seventh playoff seed with a 5-1 victory over the Moncton Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Moncton. The victory combined with Chicoutimi’s loss vaulted the Screaming Eagles ahead of the Saguenéens on the final day of the QMJHL’s 2016-17 regular season.
Just like Friday night in Halifax, the Eagles would have to come from behind to earn the two points. The Cats would score on their first shot of the game, as Jeremy McKenna stripped the puck from Cape Breton netminder Kyle Jessiman and fired it into the open goal at the 5:46 mark. Less than five minutes later the visitors would neutralize as Peyton Hoyt drove the net and Tyler Hylland followed the rebound to tie the game at one heading into the first intermission.
Just like the opening frame, the Eagles would outshoot the Wildcats, this time by a count of 15-9, but wouldn’t find their breakthrough until the 15:27 mark, on the man advantage. Massimo Carozza banked the puck off the pads of Matthew Waite to give Cape Breton a 2-1 lead. They would carry that to the break and open the game up in the third period.
Despite increased pressure from the Wildcats, Jessiman would shut the home club down and the Eagles were able to increase their advantage, first thanks to a pair of goals by Giovanni Fiore. For his first goal Fiore would produce a slick display of stick handling and deke around Wait for the goal. Then at the 15:10 mark he’d skate over the blueline on the left side and hammer it over Waite’s shoulder to push the lead to 4-1. Mathias Laferrière would complete the scoring for Cape Breton with a nifty passing play and the Eagles would win 5-1.
Fiore finished with a league leading 52 goals, as no other player in the QMJHL hit the 50 goal plateau. His 52 is the second most ever for a Screaming Eagle in a single season, falling one short of Cam Fergus’s record set in 2006-07. Fiore had a shot on goal to tie the record with five seconds remaining in the game but it was turned aside by Waite.
Jessiman picked up the win, turning aside 32 of 33 shots. Waite was tagged with the loss after stopping 28 of 33 shots.
Next up for the Screaming Eagles is the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, in which they will have home ice advantage against the Gatineau Olympiques. It’s the second time the two sides have clashed in the post-season, the first coming back in 2014. A playoff schedule is expected to be unveiled later in the weekend.
1. Matthew Waite (Moncton) 28 saves on 33 shots
2. Duncan MacIntyre (Moncton) 3 shots
3. Alexandre Renaud (Moncton) 2 shots
Scratches For Cape Breton: Phélix Martineau (injury), Adam McCormick
Scratches For Moncton: Samuel Meisenheimer, Axel Simic, Francis Thibeault
Final Shots On Goal: 34-33 in favour of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Power Play: 1/3
Moncton Power Play: 0/4