ANTIGONISH, N.S. - The Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Bulldogs are 2-0 on the young Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League season after a 4-3 victory over the Brookfield Elks, Sept. 28 at the Antigonish Arena.
After building a 3-0 lead with just a littles less than 15 minutes to go in the second period, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to quickly put the game out of reach as they followed up rookie Connor Aucoin’s goal with a number of quality chances, including centre Fearghus MacDonald on a long breakaway from the far blue line.
MacDonald’s attempt was forced wide by Elks’ goaltender Sebastien Aucoin, and credit has to go to the Brookfield side for scoring late in the second, on a power play, and twice in the third to make a game of a contest that looked like it wasn’t going to be one, early on.
The Bulldogs’ player of the game was veteran defenceman Kieran Devine who picked up two assists in the win. Other goal scorers were all local players with MacDonald scoring in the third and Ryan Kennedy and Spencer Barron in the first. Kennedy added an assist for a two point night and also picking up helpers in the win were Cory MacLellan, another Antigonish Minor Hockey Association product, and key addition Keegan Gauthier who has considerable experience at the junior ‘A’ level.
Earning his first win in his first junior ‘B’ start was Antigonish’s Owen MacDonald, who made 27 saves.
Bulldogs general manager Gerry Marangoni talked about the new local talent on the Bulldogs this season, joining veterans such as Logan DeYoung, Andrew Boyle and the MacLaughlin brothers; Devin and Kurt.
“These guys want to play for the black and gold, there is no two ways about it,” Marangoni, who has also spent a number of seasons behind the Bulldogs’ bench, said. “And it helps to bring a crowd in.”
Marangoni also talked about the addition of Gauthier and having Devine, who also spent sometime in the junior ‘A’ ranks, back to start a season with the team, after missing most of last year while away on a student exchange program and then having issues with a release.
“[Gauthier] is going to be a force in this league,” he said, noting Gauthier played last year with the Yarmouth Mariners of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
“He is a very smart player, in both ends of the ice, and can be physically dominant when he needs to be. And he has a real junior ‘A’ to major junior quality release. He is a guy who can go to the net and wreak havoc, and if the puck lands on his stick, right away it’s off and in the back of the net.”
With Devine, he talked the importance of his leadership amongst a young defence corps.
“We have a very young ‘D’ core; we lost some key guys,” Marangoni said, referring first and foremost to Antigonish native Brian MacDougall, who won best defenceman in the league in 2016-17 and was a force again last year; especially around playoff time.
“We have a bunch of rookies so you really need that veteran experience back there to help bring some of these young guys along.”
Next up for the Bulldogs is another home game this Friday (Oct. 5) evening. Antigonish will host division rival the Cumberland Blues for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
The Bulldogs will play their first away game of the regular season the following night when they travel to Membertou to take on the defending league and Don Johnson Cup champion – the Kameron Junior Miners. Game time for that match-up is also 7:30 p.m.