The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles will partake in some QMJHL history on Wednesday night when they visit the Moncton Wildcats. It’s the home finale of the regular season for the Wildcats, and it’s the last regular season game ever at the Moncton Coliseum. Next season the Wildcats will move into a new downtown arena.
It’s the 86th and final meeting between the Eagles and Wildcats at this location. That matches Bathurst for the second most visited road venue for the Screaming Eagles, and the 83 regular season road games in Moncton is only surpassed by the amount of regular season games Cape Breton has played in Halifax.
In 1973 the Coliseum opened its doors and would become integral to the expansion of the American Hockey League in Atlantic Canada. In 1978 the building welcomed the New Brunswick Hawks, who joined the Nova Scotia Voyageurs as the only two AHL teams in the Maritimes. The AHL would peak with six teams in the Atlantic provinces in 1993-94, at that time including the Cape Breton Oilers and the Moncton Hawks. That year would also mark the final season in the AHL for a Moncton based team.
The Maritime region would begin a transition to junior hockey. In 1994-95 the Halifax Mooseheads joined the QMJHL, and the following season, the Moncton Alpines would begin play out of the Coliseum. After a tumultuous first season, the Alpines were sold and rebranded the Wildcats for the 1996-97 campaign. When the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles began play in 1997, the Mooseheads and Wildcats were their only two Maritime opponents.
Much history has been made in over 20 years of junior hockey at the Coliseum. The Wildcats have won the President’s Cup twice in team history, with both title clinching victories coming on both home ice (2006 & 2010). The building hosted the Memorial Cup in the year 2006, where the Wildcats fell to the Québec Remparts in the first (and to date, only) meeting of two QMJHL teams in the tournament final. Moncton has also played host to the CHL Canada/Russia series in 2005 & 2017.
Throughout the years many memorable moments and milestones have occurred during Screaming Eagles/Wildcats games at the Coliseum. Here’s a look at some of the more noteworthy happenings in this rivalry, from a Cape Breton perspective, that have taken place on the New Brunswick side of the border.
The Coliseum wasn’t kind to the Screaming Eagles during their early years in the QMJHL. Here are some of the… lowlights:
– The Eagles would fall 5-3 in the first appearance in Moncton on November 18th, 1997. Travis Zachary was the first Cape Breton player to score at the Coliseum, scoring at the 10:00 mark of the second period with the assist going to Artem Rybin.
– 1998-99 was the final season in which QMJHL teams were not awarded a point for losing in overtime. The still young, hard luck Screaming Eagles lost in all three visits to Moncton that season, with two coming in the extra session.
– In total, Cape Breton lost in its first eight appearances in Moncton.
RAISE THE CURTAIN
On four separate occasions the Screaming Eagles have opened their season in Moncton- more than any other QMJHL arena except for Centre 200. This means that a number of prominent star Eagle players received their first taste of major junior experience at the Coliseum.
– On September 15th, 2001, the Eagles opened their season with a 6-4 victory over the Wildcats. Sports was a diversion from troubling times in the world as just days before the season opener, the Coliseum was used to house displaced airplane passengers following the September 11th hijackings. On a Saturday night in Moncton Steve Dixon and George Davis both found their first QMJHL goals, and Dixon joined Kevin Asselin in playing his first junior game. The game also featured one of the most unusual penalties in Eagles history: rookie Cape Breton defenseman Martin Toms was given a two minute minor for playing with goaltender Marc-André Fleury’s stick.
– September 17th, 2004, marked the debut of a core that would lead the Eagles to much success in the QMJHL as James Sheppard, Dean Ouellet, and Howie Centre’s Chris Culligan would all play on opening night at the Coliseum. The latter two would both score in a 5-2 loss to the Cats. Culligan would go on to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Dean Ouellet would produce back to back 40 goal seasons and Sheppard would become a first round draft pick in the NHL.
– The 2011-12 season marked the earliest summer date ever played in Screaming Eagles history: a 3-1 victory at the Coliseum on September 9th. Kyle Farrell scored his first QMJHL goal on this night, and 20 year olds Jonathan Brunelle and David Rose made their Eagles debuts.
– There would be multiple significant debuts when the Eagles topped the Wildcats 6-3 on September 12th, 2014. Evgeny Svechnikov scored once and added two assists while Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist. Combined with Sheppard’s first game also taking place in New Brunswick, Fleury is the only one of the Eagles four first round NHL draft picks to NOT have played his first junior game at the Moncton Coliseum. Another rookie playing his first game on this evening was Phélix Martineau, who will finish the regular season portion of his career tomorrow in the same place it began.
– William Carrier would play his final game as an Eagle on January 4th, 2014, in Moncton before being traded to Drummondville.
– Despite sharing the QMJHL for 21 seasons, the Screaming Eagles have only met the Wildcats once in the playoffs. In the 2010 post-season Cape Breton fell in five games to Moncton, with game five at the Coliseum being the final QMJHL game for Nick MacNeil and Jan Piskáček, and the last game in an Eagles jersey for both Olivier Roy & Francis Meilleur. MacNeil’s goal in game one in Moncton, his 110th when combining regular season and playoffs, was his final QMJHL score. The Eagles would drop the three games in New Brunswick during the playoff showdown.
– One week before MacNeil scored that goal, Luke Adam scored his 49th and final goal of the regular season for the Eagles at the Coliseum, his final goal of the season that would place him only behind Cam Fergus (53) for goals scored by an Eagle in a single year. Since then, Adam has been surpassed by Giovanni Fiore, who scored the final two of his 52 goals on March 18th, 2017, also in Moncton.
– Fiore’s goal came in the final game of the 2016-17 season for the Wildcats, as Moncton failed to qualify for the playoffs last season. Cape Breton won the contest 5-1. This season marks the second consecutive year the Wildcats will finish their home regular season calendar against the Eagles.
OPEN THE FLOODGATES
The above mentioned final game of the 2016-17 season was one of a number of blowouts in recent years between the two sides in Moncton. There have been several instances over the years of one- or both- of these teams scoring a high quantity of goals when locking horns at the Coliseum.
– The Screaming Eagles outscored the Wildcats 19-4 in their final three visits to Moncton in the 2016-17 season. Combined with the 5-1 victory in the season finale, the Eagles routed the Cats 7-2 on January 21st and 7-1 the following day. The January 21st victory saw Declan Smith record his first career hat trick, while Ross MacDougall collected his first two goals in black and gold on January 22nd.
– Seven of the last eight games between the two teams in Moncton have been decided by three goals or more.
– Throughout the 21 year history of the Screaming Eagles, the club has allowed ten or more goals on eight occasions. Two of those games occurred at the Coliseum. The 12-2 loss on February 26th, 2013, is the biggest defeat in Screaming Eagles history.
– On December 18th, 2014, the Eagles watched a 5-2 lead slip away as the Wildcats scored four times in 54 seconds en route to a 10-5 victory.
– The roles were reversed on December 11th, 2002. A rebuilding Screaming Eagles team came back from down 5-2 to record an 8-5 victory. The final six Cape Breton goals were scored over a span of just 7:15 in the third period. Kevin Asselin led the Cape Breton attack with a hat trick.
THROW SOME MORE HATS (FOR THE ROAD TEAM)
Kevin Asselin & Declan Smith aren’t the only Eagles to record a hat trick on Coliseum ice. Other instances include:
– James Sheppard’s second career hat trick came on January 6th, 2007 in Moncton. This game also saw former Wildcat Oskars Bartulis score a game tying, and game winning goal in a 6-5 overtime victory for Cape Breton.
– Max Lazarev’s first career three goal game came on January 24th, 2015, as the Eagles stomped the Cats 7-1.
– Stuart MacRae’s hat trick on January 8th, 2000, marked a number of firsts. It was the first time the Screaming Eagles were victorious at the Coliseum, and it was the first hat trick by a 17 year old rookie in the team’s history. MacRae would remain the youngest player to record a hat trick in Cape Breton history until 16 year old Brooklyn Kalmikov scored three goals in a game this past fall in Halifax. Daniel Boisclair also did his part in this January 8th breakthrough, stopping 39 of 41 shots in picking up a 5-2 victory.
– Falling short of the hat trick, current Eagles rookie forward Kyle McGrath scored his first two career goals in the same game this past December 1st. Just like MacRae above, McGrath’s team received exceptional goaltending as Kyle Jessiman stopped 51 of 54 shots in a 4-3 win.
– On February 11th, 2001, Jean-Philippe Côté played his first game as team captain, taking the “C” from Kevin Cloutier mid-season.
– Screaming Eagles defensemen Jean-Claude Sawyer (December 28th, 2002) and Jan Piskáček (October 14th, 2007) both scored their first career goals in Moncton. Sawyer would play five seasons with the team as the franchise’s all team leader in points among rearguards.
– During a game on September 20th, 2009, North Sydney native Cory MacIntosh would score his first career goal. Three months prior MacIntosh was selected by the Screaming Eagles in the tenth round of the entry draft- a draft that also took place in Moncton.
– That same game would see QMJHL history made as the first 21 shooters in the shootout would fail to score. Shooter #22, Daniel Pettersson, would give the Wildcats a 5-4 win. This still stands as a QMJHL record, although it was nearly surpassed this past Saturday at Centre 200 when the first 20 shooters in the Charlottetown/Cape Breton shootout were denied.
A number of Screaming Eagles players have scored their 30th goal of the season at the Moncton Coliseum…
– Eagles forwards Philippe Tremblay and Yannick Carpentier both hit the milestone during the same game on March 12th, 1999.
– January 21st, 2007, saw Dean Ouellet hit the 30 goal mark in a 2-1 shootout victory. This game also marked Luc Bourdon’s first game as a visiting player in Moncton after his trade to Cape Breton.
– Jordan Clendenning scored his 30th (and 31st) goal of the season in a 5-4 win on March 6th, 2008. Clendenning also scored his 20th of the year in Moncton, during a 5-4 loss on January 3rd.
– On March 14th, 2012, Jonathan Brunelle notched his 30th of the 2011-12 season. It would be his last QMJHL goal.
Despite always having played in the same division, tensions between the Screaming Eagles and Wildcats have been tame in comparison to other strong grudges with Maritime foes like Halifax and Bathurst. On a few occasions though, the Screaming Eagles/Wildcats rivalry has boiled over.
– Bad blood between the two sides has never been hotter than it was on October 2nd, 2015. As was often the case that season the drama centred around shifty Wildcats forward Conor Garland, who would be the top scorer in the CHL scoring race that year. Garland drove opposing players (and opposing fans) wild with both his tremendous skill and antagonist style. In the third period of an emotion filled game, Garland made the first move in a fight with Phélix Martineau but Martineau would send the star forward down to the ice with an injury, and Garland had to be attended to by both athletic therapists present.
– The Martineau/Garland tilt was one of just six fights on the evening, in addition to two major penalties handed out to Eagles players for checking from behind. The hostilities filtered behind the benches, with Cape Breton bench boss Marc-André Dumont and Moncton head coach Darren Rumble exchanging heated words. Wildcats general manager Roger Shannon also made his way down the stands and was banging on the glass behind the Eagles bench. In the fallout from the contest, both coaches were suspended for a game, and Cape Breton’s Martineau, Evgeny Svechnikov and Loïk Léveillé along with Moncton’s William Bower, Zack MacEwan, Manuel Wieder would miss time due to suspensions. Moncton won the game 5-2.
– There was not the same level of fireworks but the Screaming Eagles would be a thorn in the side of the 2005-06 President’s Cup winning Wildcats. On January 24th, 2006, Moncton’s recorded their lone home win that season over Cape Breton, . As the Eagles’ Brad Gallant and Wildcats’ Chris Morehouse tussled in the final minute, Moncton netminder Josh Tjordman sat atop his net, mocking a gesture made towards the Wildcats earlier in the season by Eagles goalkeeper Ondřej Pavelec. (Pavelec would return to deliver one of the finest goaltending performances in Screaming Eagles history, stopping 48 of 49 shots in a 3-1 Eagles win on March 5th of the same season).
– A goaltender sitting on the net would not be the most memorable visual from the January 24th game, although some fans may wish they forgot another notable sighting that night at the Coliseum. During a stoppage a play a streaking fan came through the crowd attempting to climb the glass and come onto the ice.
LATE TO THE PARTY
On January 19th, 2003, a group of travelling Screaming Eagles fans wish they had seen more action. Rough winter conditions caused a booster club bus to arrive late to the Moncton Coliseum where their team had already skated out to a lead by the time their supporters arrived. The game would finished tied, 4-4. It was the only tie game ever played between the two sides in Moncton. Marc-André Fleury did his part to secure a point in the standings for the Eagles, stopping 48 of 52 shots.
THE STARS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW
A storied history between two Maritime foes will continue on into the new arena in downtown Moncton. Here’s a look at what some of the players on the current rosters have accomplished at the Coliseum:
– Egor Sokolov, who captured the rookie of the year award at the Screaming Eagles team banquet on Monday, has a point in all four career games at the Moncton Coliseum. In total he’s notched two goals and five assists.
– Cape Breton captain Phélix Martineau also has a point in all four games in Moncton this season, and over his career has collected 15 points in 16 games at the Coliseum.
– Moncton forwards Mika Cyr (December 2nd, 2016) and Jacob Hudson (October 3rd, 2017) both scored their first career major junior goals at home, in games against Cape Breton.
BY THE NUMBERS
– In total, including three playoff games in 2010, the Screaming Eagles have recorded 28 wins, 52 losses, 1 tie and 4 overtime losses* in 82 games at the Moncton Coliseum. (*Does not include two overtime losses in 1998-99 before a point was awarded for an overtime loss.)
-Despite winning the President’s Cup in both 2006 and 2010, Moncton could not win the majority of games at home against Cape Breton in either season. The 2005-06 season the Screaming Eagles won two of the three meetings in Moncton, and in 2009-10 the Eagles earned five points in four games at the Coliseum as opposed to the Wildcats’ four.
– This season marks the third time in team history the Eagles have been scheduled for five visits to the Coliseum in the regular season. (The schedule was also as such in 2013-14 & 2015-16.) Thus far this season the Screaming Eagles have picked up victories on November 19th (by a score of 5-2) and December 1st (4-3). Moncton emerged with wins on October 3rd (7-2) and January 20th (6-2).
Puck drop for this evening’s contest is scheduled for 7 PM, although it may begin late due to ceremonies both honouring the Wildcats’ outgoing 20 year old players and the final regular season game at the Coliseum. You can catch all the action on 1270 CJCB with Patrick McNeil, beginning with the pre-game show. Go Eagles Go!