In the competitive Maritime Division, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are facing a familiar scenario this week- a two game set against a division rival, in a comparable place in the standings.
Following a two game set in Bathurst over the weekend, the Eagles will now tangle with the Charlottetown Islanders for a pair. This time it’s a home and home, beginning Wednesday night on PEI with the return match in Sydney on Friday. Tonight’s game is the first time this fall the Eagles have visited the Eastlink Centre. It’s the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, as Cape Breton won 4-2 on home ice on October 11th.
It’s a different Islanders club that the Eagles will be facing, as having won nine of their last ten games, hold the best record in the league over that stretch. Coming into tonight’s contest Charlottetown and Cape Breton are in a three way tie (along with Val-d’Or) for ninth in the league standings. The Eagles have dropped three straight, and hold a record 10-8-1 (4-6 on the road). Charlottetown is 10-7-1, having played 5-3-1 on home ice.
Steady defenseman Olivier Desjardins has helped things on the backend for Jim Hulton’s Islanders, as the Isles have won eight of nine with the 20 year old in the lineup. Desjardins has added three points in nine games and is +4 over the stretch. Up front, Keith Getson has been a key cog with six points in his last seven games.
For Cape Breton, the power play continues to carry the mail, as the Eagles rank first at 29.6% in that category. (Neither team has allowed a short handed goal this season, the only two teams that can make such a claim.) Eagles captain Phélix Martineau has been leading the offense as of late with eight points in his last six games, and the Cape Breton will look for some offense from league leading point getter Drake Batherson who broke a two game point drought with an assist on Saturday.
Starts have been critical for Charlottetown this season, and not as much so for Cape Breton. Charlottetown is 8-0-1 when scoring first, and 2-7-0 when allowing the first goal. Meanwhile, the Screaming Eagles have played .500 hockey when going down 1-0.
Tonight’s game could see the debut of Cape Breton defenseman Ian Smallwood, who was acquired in a minor trade with Quebec on Tuesday for a ninth round draft pick. The 18 year old Smallwood has collected two points and is a +2 over 20 career QMJHL games.
This evening’s contest goes at 7 PM, and you can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show on 1270 CJCB with Patrick McNeil at 6:30. Go Eagles Go!