He may have been in the visitor’s dressing room, but Peter Kopf is no stranger to the Antigonish Arena.
The Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional student backstopped the Strait Pirates to a 2-1 victory, in a shootout, over the Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Junior Bulldogs, Oct. 22, in Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League action.
“It was a huge win for us,” Kopf said, outside that aforementioned dressing room, after the game.
In his first Pirate season, he turned aside 30 shots in regulation and overtime, while keeping his opponents scoreless in the shootout.
“He was going backhand, forehand, so I just lunged at him and got the job done for my team,” Kopf said, when asked about the game-clinching stop on Devin MacLaughlin.
Kopf said he “felt pretty good,” before deftly deflecting the conversation – much like Bulldog shots – from his performance to teammates’.
“I think we got pucks in deep and we worked more in their zone then we did in our own,” he added.
“We really wanted to win this one.”
Pirate head coach Taylor Lambke said Kopf “stood on his head.”
“He played solidly in all three periods and overtime and then, in the shootout, made all the stops, which was really impressive,” Lambke added.
The lone Bulldog shot that found the net came off the stick of Jacob Tompkins, who re-directed a shot from defenseman Dylan MacLean – a rolling puck blasted from the point.
Patrik MacIsaac garnered the other assist on the second-period goal.
Less than five minutes into the third period, the Pirates notched the equalizer when Randon MacKinnon walked in front and roofed a shot, from the lip of the crease, over Braden Henwood.
Josh Foster and Josh MacMillan assisted.
“It was a hard-fought hockey game – both teams played really hard,” Lambke said.
He noted his team “stayed with our game plan.”
“We said that, if we do that, good things will happen. The boys did that tonight and I am really proud of them,” Lambke added.
Bulldog head coach David Synishin thought his team was “scrambling,” at times.
“We can be better than what we were, to tell you the truth, and that’s coming,” Synishin said, noting the Bulldogs need “a little less individual play.”
“When we play as a team, and we are moving the puck, we are just more effective,” Synishin added.
Henwood made 26 stops.
“He has played extremely well and made some big saves. He is giving us an opportunity to win, which is all that we can ask,” Synishin said.
The Strait win came a couple nights after skating to an 8-3 home victory over the defending league champion Pictou County Scotians Oct. 20.
MacMillan, Foster and MacKinnon led the Pirate offense with three points apiece.
Calan Kersten, Bryce Reynolds, MacMillan and Foster tallied in the first period as the Strait jumped to a 4-1 advantage.
On the strength of goals from William Stewart and Cody Hinkley, on the power play, the Pirates took a five-goal lead after two periods.
Both teams scored twice in the third period, with MacMillan notching his second and Devin Sceles providing a power-play marker for the Pirates.
Matthew Stymest made 25 saves for the victory.
On the same night, the Bulldogs earned a 6-5 road win, in a shootout, over the Valley Maple Leafs.
Giordano Saputo gave Antigonish a 1-0 lead after the first period, as part of the three-point effort.
Giovanni Akeson, Tompkins and Saputo, with his second of the game, helped the Bulldogs take a one-goal edge (4-3) after two periods.
In the third period, after the Maple Leafs tied it, MacLaughlin made it 5-4, before the home team rallied, once again, to force overtime.
Henwood made 24 saves.
Over the weekend, the Pirates faced-off against the Sackville Blazers and Scotians, while the Bulldogs played the Cole Harbour Colts and East Hants Penguins.
Results were unavailable at press time.
The Pirates will be back on home ice Friday, Nov. 3, when they host the Junior Miners.
On Saturday (Nov. 4), the Bulldogs will visit the Liverpool Privateers.
Puck drop for both games is 7:30 p.m.