The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles moved up into fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a win their final home regular season game, topping the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-3 at Centre 200 on Wednesday night.
There were no shortage of scoring opportunities in the opening 20 minutes but neither team was able to find the back of the net. Saint John outshot the Eagles 11-9 but the best chances may not have been shots on goal, but Mitchell Balmas hitting the red iron twice. Both teams were dinged with a delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass, but neither side capitalized on their power play.
In the early part of the second both sides began to make up for the lack of scoring in the first period. Just 1:42 into the middle stanza Maxim Cajkovic put a shot through traffic to give the visitors the lead, and then just over three minutes later Mitchell Balmas scored a career high 43rd goal to tie the contest. Once again it wouldn’t take long for another goal as Filip Prikryl also sent a shot through traffic and the Sea Dogs had a 2-1 lead that would hold for about half the period.
Both teams would find the back of the net in the final five minutes of period two. Gabriel Proulx, playing as a defensemen, blasted a shot from the left face-off circle to even the contest. While it looked like the period would finish tied at 2, Saint John earned a late power play. With Mitchell Balmas in the box, Prikryl had a buzzer beating goal with .4 seconds to play and the visitors had the lead heading into the third frame.
With the third period half over, the Eagles found another tying goal- Leon Gawanke blasting a one timer past Mikhail Denisov to even the score for a third time. It looked like the game might be destined for overtime, but with 2:28 left to play there was another one timer goal to be had- Mathias Laferrière riffling a shot over the shoulder of Denisov to pull the Eagles into the lead for the first time on the night.
With just under a minute to play, Denisov was lifted in favour of an extra attacker. Saint John’s Nicholas Deakin-Poot and Kyle Havlena were in the penalty box with coinciding minors, but the 5 on 4 failed to produce a tying goal for the Sea Dogs. Wilson Forest hit the empty net in the dying seconds to secure the win.
Kevin Mandolese stopped 22 of 25 shots in the victory. Denisov turned aside 34 of 38, in addition to the empty netter, in the loss.
Due to injuries and illness the Screaming Eagles played with just 17 skaters, including Marc Richard who was called up for the game. The 11th round pick of the Eagles in 2018 made his QMJHL debut with a rating of -1 and one shot on goal.
The Screaming Eagles now head to Bathurst for a two game set with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to finish the 2018-19 regular season. Puck drop on Friday night is at 7 PM, you can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 6:30 on 1270 AM CJCB or online at www.cjcbradio.com.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Mitchell Balmas (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 2 assists , +4
2. Mathias Laferrière (Cape Breton) 1 goal, 1 assist
3. Mikhail Denisov (Saint John) 34 saves on 38 shots
Scratches For Cape Breton: Declan Smith (upper body injury), Shawn Boudrias (upper body injury), Antoine Crête-Belzile (upper body injury), Adam McCormick (illness), Derek Gentile (illness)
Scratches For Saint John: Yohan Plamondon (injury), Brendan Sibley (injury), Luke Wilson
Cape Breton Power Play: 0/2
Saint John Power Play: 1/2
Final Shots On Goal: 39-25 in favour of Cape Breton