The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles will play their 35th and final road game of the season tonight, when they pay a visit to the Halifax Metro Centre to take on the Mooseheads. The team heads into tonight's game with an 18-14-2 road record on the season, and will look to finish off the season with a 19th road victory. It is their fifth and final visit to the Metro Centre, where they sport a disappointing 1-3 record thus far on the year.
Tonight's game won't be easy, as the Mooseheads are red hot as of late - winners of five of their past six hockey games. You know as well that they're going to come out extra motivated tonight, as it is their final home game of the regular season, and they are expecting a sold-out crowd to be on hand. Momentum and other such intangibles should be in the Mooseheads' favour tonight, so Cape Breton will really have to dig deep to find a victory, even if they are the more veteran and more talented team.
One thing that is for sure in the Eagles' favour is that Halifax's top defenceman, Andrew Bodnarchuk, is out for 7-10 days with a bruised shoulder. Bodnarchuk has 11 points against the Screaming Eagles this season, more than any other player in the QMJHL. However, Cape Breton will still have to contend with red-hot players such as Jakub Voracek and Logan MacMillan, who stand a good chance at hitting the scoresheet tonight. Alder Point native Bryce Swan also has a history of performing very well against the Screaming Eagles.
From the Cape Breton side of the ice, the Eagles should enter the game icing pretty much a full lineup with the exception of defenceman Etienne Breton. Word has it that Etienne suffered a broken jaw in his Saturday night scrap with Saint John's Brett Gallant. Etienne is a great kid with a ton of guts and it's really too bad to hear that he may have suffered this injury; we wish him a speedy recovery and an eventual return to the lineup. A broken jaw is certainly not a fun injury, but Breton is a tough customer and I'm sure he'll be OK.
Starting goaltenders tonight will be Ondrej Pavelec for Cape Breton and Mark Yetman for the Mooseheads. Halifax's other goaltender, Roger Kennedy, is still out of the lineup after having to undergo and emergency appendectomy, although he has recently resumed practicing with the club. Yetman has been playing quite well as of late between the pipes for the Mooseheads.
Cape Breton will look for continued success from the newly-formed powerplay units of Laberge, Ouellet, and Fergus with Sawyer and Bourdon on the points, and Sheppard, Culligan, and Slaney with McIlveen and Bartulis quarterbacking. The powerplay has gone 4/13 in the two games played since these new combinations were installed.
These final three games of the regular season are now meaningless to the Eagles in terms of where they finish in the standings, so among the main focal points of these games are (1) to gear up for playoffs and give line combinations and powerplay units a workout (2) to try to avoid any devastating injuries that would cause players to miss any playoff time (3) to try and enter the playoffs on a good note and with some momentum, with a couple of late season wins, unlike a couple of other seasons where the team lost their final few regular season games and ended up disappointing in the playoffs. #2 is especially paramount!
Game time is 7:00 PM, and the game is available on internet video webcast for your viewing pleasure. Simply navigate to www.halifaxmooseheads.ca, and you will see a large link on the right side of the page to the video webcast. Kenny MacNeil gets the pre-game show kicked off on CJCB AM 1270 at 6:30 PM.