Saints strike first in battle of Inverness County
Solid wins at home are being overshadowed by ugly losses on the road as the Strait Pirates struggle to find consistency in the early going of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
Dalbrae goaltender Andrew MacIsaac gets his paddle down to make a save as defenceman Connor Freimanis comes in to clear the rebound during last Tuesday's high school game against SAERC.
Another well-played game at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre saw Pirates goaltender Shawn Jeffrey hold his team in during a one-sided first period against the Eastern Shore Mariners. The final 40 minutes saw Pirates rookie Gavyn Helle lead his new team to a 4-1 victory.
“Our game shifted when we started checking, taking the body and forechecking hard,” said Helle, who scored the first goal on Friday after the Mariners went up 1-0 in the second after a scoreless first.
“Dale (MacIntosh) hit Brennan (Delaney) with a nice pass, and we went down on a two-man break. Brennan made a beautiful pass. That really seemed to pick up the boys.”
Helle’s regular linemates are Bryson Landry and Kenzie Dowie, but the Pirates were forced to juggle lines after losing Morgan Timmons to a checking from behind penalty in the second.
“I love playing with Bryson and Kenzie. We’re all big guys, and Bryson is tough in the corners.”
Helle, who is only 17 and a grade 12 student at SAERC, is tough enough himself at six-foot-five and 200-plus pounds. While leading the team in scoring with seven goals and four assists in nine games, he also has two fights to his credit, giving the Pirates the added toughness they have lacked in recent campaigns.
Helle came to Port Hawkesbury from Kitchener, Ontario, after getting a call from Blair Joseph, an assistant with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and former coach of the Pirates.
“All my family is from New Waterford. I’m glad I made the move; I love playing here,” he said, adding that his grandparents, Gussie and Donna Connell, live in Troy, where he stays while going to school.
After his goal to tie it Friday, he was on the ice when Steven Campbell ripped a shot from the right wing hash marks during a four-on-four to beat Boudreau for a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Landry made it 3-1 at 6:36 of the third on a play with Helle and Dowie. A powerplay goal by Dowie from Helle and Nathan Hayes at 8:46 sealed the deal for the Pirates.
The Mariners outshot the Pirates 33-27, with Jeffrey making key saves to keep Eastern Shore at bay.
But like the 9-1 loss to Sackville on their last road trip, the Pirates were unable to prevent the Valley Maple Leafs from putting an 8-3 drubbing on them in Berwick.
The Leafs, who lost 4-2 in Port Hawkesbury earlier in the month, were ready for the Pirates on Saturday, leading 3-1 and 6-3 by periods in a game that saw both Helle and Delaney drop their gloves in the third period.
Scoring for the Pirates were Timmons, Helle and Delaney. Jeffrey made 34 saves in taking his fourth loss this season.
The Pirates, who hold second place in the Sid Rowe Division with a 5-3-1 record, play two division rivals this weekend. On Friday they host the 2-7-0 Cumberland County Blues at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. On Sunday, Nov. 3rd, the Pirates are at the Antigonish Arena at 7:30 p.m. to take on the 3-4-1 Bulldogs.
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