It was a wild and wooly affair from Mile One Centre last night, and despite some heroics from the Eagles' two Newfoundland boys playing in front of family and friends, the team dropped a 7-6 decision in OT to a plucky St. John's Fog Devils hockey club.
St. John's native Kyle Downer made his first appearance in the QMJHL, taking over from starter David Davenport early in the first period after Davenport gave up three goals on six shots in 6:07 of action. Despite the pressures of coming in cold in his first game in front of family and friends, Downer played pretty well and gave the team a chance to win. Who knows, maybe he will get the start in tonight's rematch (6:30 ADT, CJCB AM 1270).
The other Newfoundlander to come up big on the night was Upper Island Cove native Robert Slaney, who fired the game-tying goal at 14:53 to send the game to overtime. Robert only has three goals so far this season, but two of them have been clutch game-tying goals at very key times.
The first period was a crazy whirlwind unlike any the Eagles have been in so far this season to my knowledge. The game wasn't quite eleven minutes old before the score was 4-3 Cape Breton! The Eagles fell behind 3-1 early, which spelled the end of Davenport's night, but two powerplay goals by Cam Fergus and Mickey MacDonald's first goal in the QMJHL gave the Eagles the 4-3 lead heading into the dressing room after one. The three-goal Eagle rally was sparked in part by a timely fight by scrapper Brad Gallant, who challenged the Fog Devils' Tim Spencer to a fight immediately off the faceoff following the third St. John's goal. Over the years, Gallant has proven that he is very good at picking the right time to try and find a scrap to spark his teammates, and more often than not, it works.
In the second period, the see-saw battle continued, with the score 5-5 after two frames. St. John's overager Nicolas Bachand scored early in the third to give the Fog Devils their third lead of the hockey game, but Slaney's heroics sent the game to overtime.
To start the four-on-four overtime, the coaching staff rolled the dice by starting three forwards (Fergus, Paul McIlveen, and Dean Ouellet) and one defenceman (Jean-Claude Sawyer). The move didn't work, as it took just 26 seconds for St. John's sparkplug Ryan Graham to use his speed to motor to the front of the net and tip home a pass from partner in crime Wes Welcher to end things.
It sounds as though it was a very entertaining game from Mile One, but the Eagles have to be disappointed with giving up seven goals to one of the lowest-scoring clubs in the league. On the radio post-game show, assistant coach Mario Durocher claimed that the Eagles played one of their worst games of the season, and stated that there was no way that the Fog Devils should have outskated us like they did. He suggested that maybe the guys took this Fog Devil hockey team a bit for granted. Considering our now 0-5 all-time record at Mile One Centre, we have no business doing that.
The Eagles gave up a goal early in each of the four periods played last night. They have also given up a goal on the first shot of the hockey game in each of their past three outings. They have given up the first goal in each of their last five games, although they won four of those.
For tonight, here's hoping for a better and more consistent effort, especially defensively, and for a better game from whatever goaltender ends up starting. We would all very much like to end this regular season Mile One winless streak, we need the two points in the standings (now one point behind Moncton and five behind Lewiston), we need to start finding a way to win on the road (the Eagles sport a mediocre 7-8-2-0 road record), and you really want to finish what's been a great first half on a positive note.