Strait Pirates upset Scotians in game seven, Miners next
The Strait Pirates bombarded the favoured Pictou County Scotians with 75 shots and 15 goals in the final two games to win the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League division semifinal series in game seven.
Strait Pirates goaltender Matt Schlotzhauer posted back-to-back wins to help eliminate the Pictou County Scotians in game seven of their Sid Rowe division semifinal series.
Coming off a 9-3 win in Port Hawkesbury on Friday to tie the series, the Pirates eliminated the Scotians on Sunday in Trenton with a 6-4 win.
“Winning the series was pretty important for us,” said Pirates coach Tim MacMillan. “We took a lot of flak over our trades with Pictou, but in the end, Pictou is out.”
The Pirates averaged 12 shots more per game than the Scotians, and while Pictou goaltender Ben Goss had their number early, the constant pressure applied by the Pirates began to pay off. Shots overall in the series were 280-207 in favour of the Pirates.
In Friday’s game, Matthew Miller and Bryson Landry scored at 2:03 and 3:52 of the first period and never looked back. Brennan Delaney added another at 15:11 to take a 3-0 lead into the dressing room.
Morgan Timmons opened the second frame with a powerplay goal, followed by a natural hat trick by Evan Wright.
Honoured as an over-ager at the start of the game, Wright forced a turnover at 12:27 for an unassisted goal and with 36 second left in the frame picked up a rebound on a shot by Landry to make it 6-0.
Goss didn’t come out for the third, with Mitchell Donlevy coming in to finish out the game in the Pictou goal. Wright completed the hat early in the third on a play with Americo Pino and Janiec.
The Pirates went up 8-0 on a goal by Eric MacKinnon.
The Scotians found a bit of life late in the period, scoring three times before Morgan Timmons settled the matter with his second goal of the game.
The Pirates outshot the Scotians 38-26, with Matt Schlotzhauer recording the win for the Pirates.
Fears that the Pirates might have overdone it in the goal-scoring department Friday were soon dispelled when they went up 3-0 in the first period Sunday.
Matthew Miller ignited the offence with a goal at 2:38 on a play with Marc Bourgeois and Jarret Collins.
David Greencorn followed at 4:59 on a play with Michel Desveaux and Timmons.
And Miller added another at 12:43, a shorthanded goal on a turnover.
The Scotians turned their game up a notch in the second and third and actually outshot the Pirates 43-37 for the first time in the series. They scored twice on the powerplay in the second frame and tied it 3-3 with a goal at 2:17 of the third.
Evan Wright, who led the Pirates with seven goals and 11 points in the series, scored 24 seconds after Pictou tied it to put the Pirates up 4-3.
But it was Morgan Timmons who delivered the back-breaker, knocking down a clearing shot and snapping it back past Goss for the eventual game-winner at 9:19.
The Scotians pulled Goss for an extra attacker in the final minute and 41 seconds, and scored at 19:19 to draw within one.
Bryson Landry settled the dispute with an empty net goal and a 6-5 Pirates’ victory.
“The puck was sailing in for us early, and that has a lot to do with the guys rededicating themselves to not always shooting to score,” said MacMillan. “We scored 15 goals in the last two games, and a lot of those goals were just putting the puck on the net and working hard for a rebound or a turnover.”
MacMillan said Miller’s return for the playoffs has paid dividends, but so has the play of several other players who were up and down in the consistency department during the regular season.
“Evan (Wright), as an over-ager, is on a mission, but there are a bunch of guys who have really come through for us: David (Greencorn), Americo (Pino), Morgan (Timmons), Brennan (Delaney), Eric (MacKinnon); we weren’t going anywhere without their contribution in this series.”
Which brings us to the next series. The Glace Bay Miners did not face a lot of adversity in the regular season, winning the Sid Rowe division with a 25-5-3-1 record.
Their strength has been their powerplay, wit 49 of their 193 goals (25 per cent) coming with the extra-man advantage. The Pirates, in comparison, saw just 12 per cent of their goals (20 of 166) scored on the powerplay.
On the other side of the coin, the Miners were one of the most penalized teams in the league with 1,122 minutes in penalties while the Pirates were the least penalized team at 389.
“Shots on goal and don’t take penalties, those are two key indicators in a successful playoff series. We felt we were the better team most nights out against Pictou, even with Goss making those saves,” said MacMillan.
“I think we were fortunate to go through the mess we did with Pictou. (Miners goalie Jacob) McKendry is a good goalie, like Goss, but if we do the same thing to McKendry that we did to Goss, and if we can get timely goals while staying out of the box and have Glace Bay marching to the box, we do this. I think Glace Bay didn’t want anything to do with us and would have preferred to play Pictou.”
Glace Bay had the better record against the Pirates during the regular season, winning four of six meetings. However, in their last meeting in Cheticamp, the Pirates won 5-1.
With the elimination of the Cape Breton West Islanders from the Nova Scotia Major Midget AAA playoffs, the Pirates are taking on board three players. Konnor Timmons will get a start on defence this Friday in the absence of Dale MacIntosh (best man in a cousin’s wedding in the Dominican Republic); faceoff man Colby Tower will be dressed, as will goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon, who will likely back up Schlotzhauer in game one.
The best-of-seven Sid Rowe division final begins this Friday and Saturday at the Bayplex in Glace Bay. Game times are 7:30 p.m. each night.
The series returns to the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre the following Friday and Saturday, March 22nd and 23rd, and the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on both of those nights.
The three remaining games, if necessary, will be played on Tuesday, Mar. 26th, in Glace Bay; Friday, Mar. 29th, in Port Hawkesbury; and Monday, Apr. 1st, at 2 p.m. in Glace Bay.
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