The Screaming Eagles begin their final stretch of home games before the QMJHL’s Christmas break. Today’s opposition is the Val-d’Or Foreurs, who are making their only visit to Centre 200 during the regular season and playing their final game in the Maritimes this season.
Cape Breton comes into the game off a 4-3 win Friday night in Moncton, which saw Kyle Jessiman make 51 saves and Kyle McGrath score the first two goals of his QMJHL career. Val-d’Or is looking to hit the win column for the first time on their road trip, as they have dropped three straight games heading into today. The Foreurs are playing their third game in three days, but did get a boost Saturday night in Halifax when their captain, overage defenseman David Henley, returned from a six game suspension.
Coming into today’s contest the Eagles are three points up on the Foreurs in the tightly packed QMJHL standings. Cape Breton sits in a tie for 10th, at 14-12-2, while Val-d’Or is tied for 13th, at 13-14-1. The Eagles are 7-5-1 at home while the Foreurs are 4-10 on the road.
It’s been a battle to stay healthy on the blueline for the Eagles with Noah Laaouan and Ross MacDougall sidelined with lower body injuries. Sacha Roy returned from a four game suspension Friday in Moncton, only to incur another two game suspension for taking off an opponent’s helmet. Sunday’s game will also be the last one in a while in an Eagles uniform for German blueliner Leon Gawanke, who will soon representing his country at the Division I World Junior Ice Hockey Championship.
For Val-d’Or, much of the club’s success relies on the overage trio of Henley, Mathieu Nadeau, and Etienne Monpetit. Nadeau has produced at over a point a game this season, while Monpetit was named the QMJHL’s goaltender of the month for November, producing a save percentage of 935 in that time frame. Another player to watch is 18 year old defenseman David Noel, a premier offensive defenseman who was chosen by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round of this past June’s NHL draft.
Today’s game goes at 4 PM. Go Eagles Go!