Ryan Kennedy potted a pair of goals to help lead the Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Junior Bulldogs to a 5-2 victory over the Strait Pirates.
The long-time rivals dropped the puck, Dec. 15 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, in Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League action.
“He has been playing really well,” head coach David Synishin said of the first-year Bulldog.
The Antigonish native has collected nine points, including seven goals, in the regular season. Due to injury, he has only played 13 games.
Synishin said Kennedy has a great release and an ability to find the “quiet areas” on the ice.
“Ryan has been very strong for us, which is great to see for a first-year player,” he added.
In the win, the Pirates opened the scoring late in the first period.
On the power play, Olan Spears cashed in, on assists from Jordan Moss and Callum Jordan.
With only four seconds remaining in the opening 20 minutes, Josh Cunningham notched the equalizer, on assists from Connor Fraser and Devin MacLaughlin.
In the second period, Kennedy’s back-to-back markers – less than one minute apart – made it 3-1 for the Bulldogs.
On an unassisted, power-play goal from Kennedy, which turned out to be the game-winner, the visitors took a one-goal edge.
“It is nice to see. It continues to click and we hope to keep that going,” Synishin said of the special-team performance.
When asked why the power play has been ‘clicking,’ Synishin said “getting pucks to the net” has been a key.
“It has been the little things,” he added.
Giordano Saputo and MacLaughlin collected the helpers on the second tally.
Before the end of the second, Fraser gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 advantage, on assists from Taylor Leger and Cunningham.
In the third period, the teams traded goals, with Leger scoring, from Cunningham and Fraser, who both finished with three-point efforts.
Josh Foster – from Bryce Reynolds and Randon MacKinnon – wrapped up the scoring for the Pirates with the man advantage.
Antigonish native Peter Kopf made 24 stops for the Pirates, while Charles Jensen had 30 saves for the Bulldogs.
“He played really well and made some big saves when we needed them,” Synishin said of his goaltender.
The Bulldogs head into the Christmas break with five consecutive victories.
“We continue to work hard,” Synishin said of the win over the Pirates.
“We were able to put a lot of pressure on them, early on, and stifle their speed – they are a high-flying team.”
Both teams will return to action Friday, Jan. 5, on home ice, when the Bulldogs host the Cumberland County Blues and the Pirates welcome the defending league champion Pictou County Scotians.
Puck drop for both match-ups is 7:30 p.m.