ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Five wins in eight games has the Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Junior Bulldogs sitting in second place in the Sid Rowe Division of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, going into the last full week of October.
The Strait Pirates, under head coach Taylor Lambke, lead the division with a 6-1-1 (overtime loss) record for a total of 13 points. The Dave Synishin coached Bulldogs have 10 points, one more than the Kameron Jr. Miners, who have played two less games.
In games over the Oct. 19 and 20 weekend, the host Pirates downed the Cole Harbour Colts 6-4, to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss on the road, earlier in the week, while the Bulldogs dropped a home-ice contest versus the Miners, by the score of 5-2.
Bryce Reynolds had two goals for the Strait in the win while Christian Papineau recorded three assists.
Branden Dauphinee had a goal and an assist while Randon MacKinnon, Ryan Bakker, Joshua MacMillian each added a goal and Devin Sceles two assists.
Cody Smith picked up the win in goal for the Pirates by making 20 saves.
Scoring for the Bulldogs in their loss to the Miners were Cory MacLellan and Ryan Kennedy with Jacob Nobbe and Fearghus MacDonald picking up assists.
Jared Green was tagged with the loss while making 29 saves.
Two of the Bulldogs’ three losses have been at the hands of the defending league and Don Johnson Cup champion Miners and veteran defenceman Kieran Devine said the key is playing a full 60 minutes against the Membertou-based club.
“We just have to play three full periods and we can play harder against those guys,” Devine said, following a team practice Oct. 23.
“We have to bring it every shift, you can’t take shifts off against them.”
Kennedy noted the Bulldogs have scored two goals in both losses versus the Miners, so they have to pick it up offensively.
“The last game we had trouble scoring against them too, we have to be more aggressive,” Kennedy said. “Play harder against them and be more physical.”
One of the local players with the Bulldogs this season, Kennedy noted his season is going along pretty well, paying on a line with fellow Antigonisher Fearghus MacDonald and junior ‘A’ veteran Keegan Gauthier.
“We’re playing well together,” Kennedy said, before giving his assessment of the team’s season, so far, overall.
“Things are going pretty good; we have a young team and we’re only going to get better,” he said. “We have a lot of rookies this year and it will take a while for everyone to get going.”
Devine echoed his teammate’s thought.
“A lot of young guys but you see guys starting to pick it up now, and do some things … it’s going pretty well,” Devine, who also has junior ‘A’ experience, said.
The team is especially young on the blue-line which makes his experience all that more invaluable.
“A little bit more of a leadership role out there; show the young guys and step it up, but, at the end of the day, you still have to keep it simple, keep playing your game,” Devine said of his approach. “It [his game] doesn’t change too much.”
Both teams play twice this weekend, starting Friday evening. The Pirates host the Brookfield Elks while the Bulldogs hit the road to face the East Hants Pengiuns. Puck drop for both games is 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, it's the Pirates with a road game; a 6 p.m. puck drop in Trenton versus the Pictou County Scotians, while the Bulldogs will play their second straight Fred Fox Division foe when they entertain the Valley Maple Leafs at the Antigonish Arena. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.