SYDNEY- The Screaming Eagles fought all the way back, but couldn’t complete the comeback against the Charlottetown Islanders on Wednesday night at Centre 200. The Isles emerged victorious to take a 3-0 series lead, following a 4-3 overtime victory.
None of the seven goals were scored in the first nineteen minutes as the early stages of the game showed more signs of fireworks than red lights. Just 1:06 into the contest Charlottetown’s Matthew Grouchy and Cape Breton’s Tyler Hylland dropped the gloves with Hylland landing more of the blows. In addition to five minute majors, both players were given game misconducts for staging a fight.
There would be another fight in the opening period, but this one was certainly not staged. Just past the halfway point Phélix Martineau would take exception to a hit by Adam Marsh on Cape Breton defenseman Adam McCormick, and challenged Marsh to a scrap. Aside from the fighting majors there was no penalty called on the play, but McCormick would not return to the game in spite of skating off on his own power.
When the Eagles took a too many on the ice penalty with 21 seconds left in the first period, it appeared the Islanders would begin the middle stanza on the man advantage. But the Islanders had other ideas, as shortly after the faceoff Daniel Sprong blasted the puck over Kevin Mandolese for a quick power play marker to conclude the opening period.
Period two would begin as period one concluded, as the Islanders would score in the opening minute to double the lead. Alex Dostie drove the net and Will Bower jammed in the rebound. Creating a presence in front of the goal would lead to the third Charlottetown goal as well, as former Eagle Dillon Boucher jabbed at the puck and slid it under Mandolese.
Charlottetown held a 3-0 lead advantage past the five minute mark, and had several chances to expand the lead but Mandolese shut the door. However just like the Islanders carried the first half of the second frame, Cape Breton would come on strong in the latter half. It began on the power play, as Cape Breton snapped a drought of 21 straight power plays without a goal thanks to a Giovanni Fiore one timer.
Fiore’s goal began a rally. At the 16:35 mark Declan Smith would tip an Olivier LeBlanc point shot and Mark Grametbauer was unable to catch up with the change of direction, and the Eagles were within one. Then Fiore sent the fans into frenzy with the tying goal. He would strip Daniel Sprong of the puck in the neutral zone and race in to beat Grametbauer on a breakaway.
With the game tied at three, things would tighten up as the third period went on. Neither team could find a gamebreaker and the game required an extra session. For Cape Breton, it was familiar territory, having played overtime games in the first round against Gatineau. The overtime affair was Charlottetown’s first of the post-season.
It would take just 4:11 and the game would end on a somewhat unassuming play. Nicole Meloche took the puck at the top of the right circle and found Kielly on the opposite side. Meloche’s pass just grazed Kielly’s stick on the passing attempt to go past Mandolese to give Charlottetown an overtime victory and a 3-0 series lead.
Grametbauer picked up the win, stopping 32 of 35 shots. Mandolese turned aside 32 of 36 shots in the loss.
Charlottetown’s François Beauchemin missed Wednesday’s game three, serving the first of a two game suspension. He was replaced by Boucher, who drew back into the lineup after serving a one game suspension of his own. Boucher registered four shots on net including his goal in his return to the lineup.
Game four will take place at Centre 200 tomorrow night as the Eagles look to save off elimination. Tickets can be purchased at the Centre 200 box office, by phone at 902-564-2200 or online at https://tickets.capebreton.ca/Online/default.asp
1. Giovanni Fiore (Cape Breton) 2 goals, 10 shots
2. Kameron Kielly (Charlottetown) 1 goal, 1 assists
3. Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton) 32 saves on 36 shots
Scratches For Cape Breton: Olivier Bourret, Logan O’Neil
Scratches For Charlottetown: Hunter Drew, Sam King, Jean-Sébastien Taillefer, François Beauchemin (suspension)
Final Shots On Goal: 36-35 in favour of Charlottetown
Cape Breton Power Play: 1/6
Charlottetown Power Play: 1/2