Pirates wrap up season against Bulldogs
-by Bill Dunphy
Close to 900 appreciative fans at the Cabot Trail Arena in Cheticamp cheered the Strait Pirates on to a 5-1 win over the Glace Bay Miners in Junior B hockey action on Friday.
The game was held as a show of appreciation by the Pirates who have five players from the community and one with Pleasant Bay roots on the team.
All five started the game, with Dale MacIntosh and Jocelyn Poirier on the blueline, leading scorer Marc Bourgeois at centre, and Michel Desveaux and newly-returned Matthew Miller on the wings.
And they didn’t disappoint.
Eight minutes in, Bourgeois won a race to the puck and quickly centered a pass to Americo Pino streaking down the middle to beat Miners goaltender Scott MacDonald with a one-timer.
The Pirates took one step back late in the period when Glace Bay tied the game with a shorthanded goal on a giveaway.
But it was all Pirates after that.
Bourgeois scored the eventual game-winner at 6:07 of the second period, winning a draw to Dale MacIntosh on the point and tipping the return shot home.
Miller made his presence known with a snazzy one-handed pass from Desveaux to Bourgeois at 11:59 as the Pirates took a 3-1 lead into the dressing room.
Twenty-six seconds into the third and David Greencorn converted a pass from Morgan Timmons to make it 4-1, and that was all she wrote as the Miners’ tough guys started taking cheap shots looking for fights.
Pirates’ middleweight Brennan Delaney dropped the gloves with heavyweight Sean Ferguson and gave a good accounting of himself in one set-to.
Shortly after, Glace Bay enforcer Colton Abraham did his best to get Desveaux to go with him, but Pirates coach Tim MacMillan was having nothing to do with that, taking Desveaux off to put rookie Clint Snook on the ice.
Snook went toe-to-toe with the bigger Abraham before the laws of physics took over.
“Michel was upset with me, but we were up 4-1 at that point, and I didn’t want him fighting and breaking a knuckle or something this close to playoffs,” said Pirates coach Tim MacMillan. “Michel would have gone for it, but we didn’t need those fights. Our guys aren’t intimidated by that bunch; we should have beaten them a couple of times up there.”
“I was actually hoping that it would have been Clint and Ferguson to go because Clint would have (won that). Clint has the honour of filling the last player card we had. He kept coming to practice from the start of the season and stuck with it, and we’re happy to have him.”
After the two fights, the Miners resigned themselves to their fate, and Greencorn added another goal for good measure at 15:39.
Along with Miller, the game also marked the return of goaltender Matt Schlotzhauer, who looked better than ever in making 32 saves for the win.
“It was Schotz’s first game in three months, and he played excellent. It’s quite a coincidence that he got hurt the same time Miller left for work and they both came back on the same night.”
During those first eight games of the season, the Pirates had seven wins with Miller and Schlotzhauer in the lineup.
The Pirates close out the final three games of the regular season in a mini-series with the Antigonish Bulldogs.
The two teams played last night (Tuesday) in Antigonish and then wrap up the season Friday and Saturday at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. Both games are at 7:30 p.m.
The Pirates are hoping to regain second place, which is currently held by the Pictou County Scotians, their first-round playoff opponents regardless. The Scotians have a three-point lead with one game left, and the Pirates could secure home ice in the first round of playoffs with a sweep of Antigonish.
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