It was a difficult to return to QMJHL action for the Cape Breton Eagles after nine days off and multiple game cancellations due to a flu bug going through the team. The Eagles were defeated 7-2 in their return by the Halifax Mooseheads.
It was the first half of the opening frame and change that made the difference in the game. Just 2:08 into the contest, Liam Peyton found himself open above the face-off circles and while Nicolas Ruccia made the first stop, he couldn’t stop the rebound and the home team led 1-0.
Halifax also didn’t take long capitalizing on the first power play of the game- just 19 seconds into a Mark Rumsey minor, Attilio Biasca was the open man and he wired it by Ruccia for his first career goal. Then just after the halfway mark of the period, Lucas Robinson put a point shot through a Biasca screen to push the lead to 3-0. The Eagles were not able to capitalize on a Stephen Davis minor in the final six minutes of the frame and it was 3-0 at the first break.
The score would hold past the eight minute mark when the Eagles got on the board with a great individual effort from Connor Trenholm. The Eagles forward cut out from the boards on the right side of the ice to the middle and blasted it over Alexis Gravel to make it a 3-1 game. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the two goal deficit would last exactly three minutes when L’Heureux converted on a breakaway to make it 4-1 before the second siren.
The wheels came off in the early part of the third period as Halifax scored three times in the opening four minutes. Only 17 seconds into the frame, L’Heureux found his second of the game, capitalizing on the rebound of a Jordan Dumais shot. James Swan made it 6-1, and then Bobby Orr beat an outstretched Ruccia on the power play to make it 7-1.
The goal would spell the end of the night for Ruccia, and the end of the scoring for Halifax. FJ Buteau would get one back for the Eagles, solving Gravel in the final minute of play.
Frédéric Plourde made his QMJHL debut in relief of Ruccia, as the 18 year old Truro Bearcats (MHL) net minder stopped all 7 shots in relief. The Eagles also called up forward Trey Sturge (Truro) and defenseman Matthew Power (Valley) from the MHL for this afternoon’s contest.
Gravel picked up the win in goal, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Ruccia took the loss, allowing seven goals on 32 shots.
The Eagles will now break for Easter and return to action on Sunday, April 11th in Charlottetown against the Islanders. Puck drop is at 3PM and the game will be broadcast on Eastlink Television. You can also hear all the action beginning with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 2:30 PM on 1270 AM CJCB or online at www.cjcbradio.com
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Zachary L’Heureux (Halifax) 2 goals, 2 assists, 5 shots
2. Lucas Robinson (Halifax) 1 goal, +1
3. Liam Peyton (Halifax) 1 goal, 1 assist
Scratches For Cape Breton: Jérémy Langlois (upper body injury), Matthew MacDonald (lower body injury), Logan Kelly-Murphy (upper body injury), William Grimard (upper body injury), Félix Paré (lower body injury), Ivan Ivan (border), Mikhail Nizovkin (border)
Scratches For Halifax: Keegan Hunt (upper body injury), Alex Tessier (upper body injury), Jake Furlong (upper body injury), Brendan Tomilson (collarbone), Cameron Whynot (illness), Senna Peeters (illness), Kyle Petten (illness)
Final Shots On Goal: 39-27 in favour of Halifax
Cape Breton Power Play: 0/4
Halifax: Power Play: 2/4