A long-time hockey rivalry will be renewed Friday night [Dec. 15] at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
The Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Junior Bulldogs will visit the Strait Pirates in Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League action.
Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
“They are very offensive, especially up front, so we will have to hold the fort,” Bulldog head coach David Synishin said, when asked about keys to success against the Pirates.
He added consistency will have to continue on ‘D,’ which the first-year head coach noted has “steadily improved” as the season has gone on.
“We have to continue to get pucks to the net and create traffic – get rebounds, which is how we have been scoring a lot of our goals,” Synishin said.
Noting the Pirates got the jump in the previous match-up, he added, the importance of changing that this time.
“We didn’t start very well,” Synishin said.
Forward Taylor Leger tallied the overtime winner in a 2-1 road victory over the Cumberland County Blues, Dec. 3, in Springhill.
The Leger marker was unassisted.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Synishin said of the game-clincher, explaining the forward walked out from the corner and roofed a shot short-side.
After falling behind 1-0, Patrik MacIsaac scored the third-period equalizer for Antigonish, on assists from Leger and Connor Fraser.
The Bulldogs outshot the Blues 52-31.
Charles Jensen made 30 saves for the win.
“We worked extremely hard and battled through,” Synishin said, noting the Blues “played very well.”
He added the Bulldogs – short four or five regulars – skated with three lines and five defensemen.
“Again, we battled, so it was a nice win for us,” Synishin said.
Two nights earlier (Dec. 1), in a 5-3 home victory over the Junior Miners, forward Logan DeYoung tallied the first Bulldog goal.
Fraser notched the lone assist on the power-play marker.
The teams were knotted 1-1 after one period.
“We have played them well all season,” Synishin said, noting over nine periods, the Bulldogs may have provided one poor period and another seven-minute stretch.
“They are a very good team – one that is loading up to host the Don Johnson Cup.”
In the second period, after the Miners regained the lead, the Bulldogs pulled even – on the man advantage – with Devin MacLaughlin the marksman, on assists from Blair Fraser and Giordano Saputo.
After the Miners took their third one-goal edge, early in the third period, the Bulldogs scored three unanswered goals – in the final 10 minutes of regulation – to secure the victory.
On another power-play goal – the second from MacLaughlin – Antigonish made it 3-3.
Connor Fraser, with his second, and Dylan MacLean provided the assists.
Josh Cunningham, with what turned out to be the game-winner, gave the Bulldogs their first lead (4-3), on another Connor Fraser helper.
“We were finally able to come out with the win against them,” Synishin said, noting the Bulldogs did not have a full line-up, with a couple regulars absent.
Ryan Kennedy, from Saputo and MacLaughlin, finished off the scoring.
Jensen made 24 saves.
“He has started to get into a groove,” Synishin said of his goaltender, who debuted this season only a couple weeks ago.
In recent action, the Pirates dropped back-to-back games versus the defending league-champion Pictou County Scotians.
At the Trenton Arena, Dec. 3, Bryce Reynolds and Josh Foster scored for the Pirates in a 5-2 setback.
Randon MacKinnon, Jackson Beck, Dawson MacLean and Olan Spears provided assists.
The Pirates generated 53 shots on goal, while Matthew Stymest and Peter Kopf made nine and 27 saves, respectively, in the loss.
Two nights earlier (Dec. 1), on home ice, the Pirates dropped a 4-1 decision to the Scotians.
Reynolds, from Beck and Stymest, tallied the lone Strait goal.
Stymest made 22 stops.
Back in action
On back-to-back nights over the weekend, the Bulldogs skated against, the Brookfield Elks and Scotians.
The Pirates were on the road to face the Blues.
Results of these match-ups were unavailable at press time.