There were goals a plenty in the Cape Breton Eagles first weekday game of the season as they edged the Saint John Sea Dogs 8-6 at Centre 200.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to start in the opening period, as Josh Roy beat William Grimard low along the ice on the trapper side just 30 seconds in to give the visitors the lead. Just over two minutes later Eagles captain Shawn Element would counter, tying the game with his own low shot to the blocker side, and extending his season opening point streak to 15 games.
After a near ten minute ceasefire in goal scoring Saint John would take control of the game- first Leighton Carruthers keeping on a 2 on 1 and putting his first career goal by Grimard. Then Roy broke through in front of the net to put a rebound over the Eagles goal line and make it a 3-1 game.
The final minute of the frame belonged to the home team and after a few big chances the Eagles would pull within a goal. Ryan Francis was denied by Noah Patenaude on a breakaway, and then Félix Lafrance put it over the net when all alone in front. But with 20 seconds left, Liam Kidney won the puck in the corner and sent it to Connor Trenholm who put it by the Saint John keeper on the short side to make it 3-2.
There was much more calm beginning to the second period- no goals, and once again no penalties through the first ten minutes. Saint John went to the first man advantage of the night for either team when Émile Hegarty-Aubin was given a checking to the head minor at 11:32- but the Eagles killed it off.
Not long after, the second stanza found its first goal when Francis kept on a 2 on 1 with Trenholm, finding the tying goal. Then with under four minutes to play the Eagles took their first lead of the game- Félix Lafrance backhanded a shot over Patneaude’s pad and it bounced off Charlie DesRoches and over the goal line.
Saint John thought they had a tying goal, but fate wasn’t in their favour for the rest of the period. DesRoches ripped a shot off the post and Charles Savoie put the rebound in for a would be tying goal- but it was overturned, ruled that Savoie kicked the puck in. Then, with 80 seconds to play in the period, the Eagles cashed in on their first power play of the night with a big shot from Nathan Larose to make it 5-3 by the game’s second buzzer.
The scoring didn’t slow down in the third period- at 3:19, before Patenuade could even get to the bench on a delayed penalty, Dawson Stairs broke through the Eagles defense and made it a 5-4 game. 24 seconds later Eagles captain Shawn Element countered, ripping one high over the Sea Dogs netminder.
After almost ten minutes without a goal the Eagles took their biggest lead of the night when Jarrett Baker buried a backhand pass from Lafrance over Patneaude’s shoulder. But as was the case throughout the night, no lead would be safe.
Brady Burns pulled the Sea Dogs back into the game just 80 seconds after the Baker goal, and would bring the Dogs within one in the final two minutes when he cashed in on a rebound after Josh Lawrence hit the post.
In the final minute of play, Saint John was pressing hard for the tying goal but Liam Kidney did some great work to bring the puck out to neutral territory and was hauled down by William Villeneuve (for just the fourth penalty of the game). Dogs coach Greg Gilbert was forced to pull his goaltender just to create a five on five. The Eagles were able to clear the zone and Lafrance hit the open goal to clinch an 8-6 victory for the Eagles.
Grimard stopped 35 of 41 in the win, while Patenuade allowed seven goals on 33 shots in addition to the empty netter.
The Eagles will now head to New Brunswick for their first meeting of the season with the Moncton Wildcats. Puck drop on Friday is at 7 PM. The game will be streamed online, available for purchase at qmjhl.neulion.com/qmjhl. You can also hear all the action beginning with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 6:30 PM on 1270 AM CJCB or online at www.cjcbradio.com
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Shawn Element (Cape Breton) 2 goals, 2 assists, +5
2. Nathan Larose (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 2 assists, 5 shots
3. Ryan Francis (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 2 assists, +5
Scratches For Cape Breton: Ivan Ivan (border), Mikhail Nizovkin (border), Zach Welsh
Scratches For Saint John: Julian Vander Voet, Hunter Gartley (lower body injury)
Final Shots On Goal: 41-34 in favour of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Power Play: 1/2
Saint John Power Play: 0/2