One of the main complaints from fans this season has been a real lack of rough stuff in games at C200 so far this season. People have been generally very happy with the team's performance, but some felt that there was something missing from most of the games this season.......... the general complaint was that too many games resembled a tea party more than they resembled a hockey game.
Maybe all that had to be done to correct this problem was to bring in the Eagles' long-time blood rivals, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Fans were treated to a wild and wooly affair last night, featuring four fights, and seeing three different Titan players given major penalties and game ejections for things OTHER than fighting. Defenceman Brad Tesink received an aggressor major and game misconduct for jumping Cape Breton's Alex Quesnel in the second period. Defenceman Nicolas Sigouin received a match penalty for attempt to injure after the very bizarre move of kneeing Eagle blueliner Spencer Corcoran during a third period fight. And Titan captain Jordan Clendenning received an aggressor major and game ejection of his own for a brutal sucker punch on young Quesnel, who had a rough go of things last night it seemed!
The game also featured two heavyweight bouts between Cape Breton's Brad Gallant and the Titan's Charles Bergeron.
Add it all up, and the Eagles ended up with 15 powerplays on the night, while Bathurst enjoyed just two. That considered, it should not be surprising that Cape Breton walked away with an easy 7-2 victory over what is usually a very tough team to take the two points from. The Eagles scored five of those seven goals on the powerplay.
Dean Ouellet had two powerplay goals for Cape Breton, while Chris Culligan and Cam Fergus had a pair each as well, including one each on the powerplay. Paul McIlveen scored the other Eagle PP goal. James Sheppard was first star of the night, finishing with four assists to continue to be red hot. Newcomer Jonathan Laberge had a successful debut with the Eagles, recording an assist and going an incredible 16-4 on faceoffs!
Speaking of Sheppard, there was a scary moment early in the third, as Sheppard was nailed seemingly shoulder-first into an open bench door, and looked to be in a lot of pain as he crawled on all fours into the bench. Props to Brad Gallant for coming out and fighting the culprit right away, although I didn't think it was an intentionally dirty hit.
Speaking of players sticking up for teammates, huge credit also has to go to Robert Slaney, who showed exemplary leadership (to quote someone else I was talking to) in immediately dropping the gloves with Clendenning for his sucker punch on Quesnel. In fact, the Eagles as a team did a great job of sticking up for each other last night, proving that there's more to them than just fancy goals and a great powerplay. In a night where the team put on another great offensive show, the most rewarding part may have been to see the boys stand up for each other and show some real heart and gumption.
All in all, a very entertaining night at the rink. The fans were loud, proud, and raucous, and C200 had an atmosphere like it hasn't had all year. With all of the recent excitement and buzz about the team in light of the recent trades, it was a great time for a really entertaining game to occur.
With the win, the Eagles improve to 29-13-2 on the season, including an impressive 18-3 record on home ice. Lewiston lost in overtime to the St. John's Fog Devils last night, so Cape Breton gained a point on them, moving to within eight points of the division leaders while still holding a game in hand.
The two rivals go at it again tonight......... same time, same place. We're entering the stretch drive, people, the time of year where contending teams really start to hit their stride and fine-tune their game for the playoffs, so come one come all out to the rink and catch this very entertaining and high-tempo Eagle hockey club as they surge towards the playoffs!