First of all, a nice win on Monday night at C200 over the PEI Rocket. Good teams find a way to win in the face of adversity, and it was a job well done by the Eagles to find a way to win despite a very low overall team energy level due to that flu bug that was still lingering throughout the team.
The key to this win was the play of Ondrej Pavelec, especially in the second period, heading into which the Eagles were leading by a score of 2-1. The visitors dominated the frame, outshooting their hosts to a staggering tune of 19-2. This may have been Pavelec's single finest period, on home ice at least, of the entire season to date. Of their 19 shots, PEI probably had a good 10-12 real quality scoring chances, and I doubt that there are too many other goaltenders in junior hockey who could have gotten us out of that period alive. Pavelec was just sensational, not seeming to mind the onslaught at all, looking like he was quite enjoying himself more than anything. His best stop was likely on a Brett Morrison-to-Marin Latal one-timer, where Ondrej read the play perfectly, and dove across the crease just in time to get a left pad on Latal's blast.
After the Eagles weathered this second period storm, they came up with a much more controlled third period, and Cam Fergus's beautiful goal to make the score 3-1 was the backbreaker. His 46th of the season was a nifty effort where he made several moves in tight before tucking the puck back out in front and in from behind the goal line; a real goal scorer's goal. Fergus is now just one goal away from tying the team record for goals in a season, so the record could conceivably be matched or broken during this coming weekend's two home games.
The game was a good opportunity to see how the Eagles matched up against the hottest team in the league, and they passed the test, albeit by the skin of their teeth. PEI showed that they will be a formidable playoff foe, and that in the event of a second round series between the two teams, the Eagles had better be ready.
This just in from the Q head office.
The QMJHL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Month for the month of February have been released, and it was a great month for Screaming Eagle players.
James Sheppard has been named QMJHL Offensive Player of the Month for February. He scored 23 points in the ten games he played during the month.
Ondrej Pavelec and JC Sawyer were both runners-up for the Defensive Player of the Month award for February. They were both slightly nudged out by Val d'or's superstar defenceman Kristopher Letang.
To have three players in the running for Player of the Month awards at this time of year, the stretch drive, speaks well for the impact players this year's edition of the Eagles possesses.
This upcoming weekend is one for fans to look forward to, as two rare Quebec-based teams will visit C200, a nice break from the same old East Division foes. The Shawinigan Cataractes visit on Friday night, and Patrick Roy and his Quebec Remparts are in town on Saturday. Both teams are making their first visits to C200 since November 2005, a good sixteen months ago.
The Shawinigan game is interesting because there is an outside chance that the Cataractes could be the Eagles' first round playoff opponent. The Quebec game is a draw in and of itself, as the Remparts are one of the more entertaining teams in the league, and their coach Roy always draws a crowd thanks to his celebrity alone. There should be a very good crowd on hand at C200 for the Quebec game. It will be nice to see the more wide-open style that the Quebec-based teams generally tend to bring (well maybe not so much Shawinigan, but most likely the Remparts will); many fans agree that a large proportion of the most entertaining games at C200 to date this season have been against the Quebec teams.
As well, as mentioned earlier, team history could be made this weekend, as Cam Fergus is just one goal away from tying, and two away from breaking, Ryan Walsh's record for goals in a season.
The really good news for the Eagles' faithful this weekend, and yet another reason for fans to want to come out to the rink, is that the club expects that they could very well ice a full lineup for the first time in who knows how long. It's being speculated that Oskars Bartulis and Jonathan Laberge could be good to go for the weekend's games, after sitting out the last few each with injuries. It is also hoped that the few days of rest the team is enjoying will be enough to kill that flu bug that has crippled our squad over the past while. The Eagles have been playing for at least the last month with at least one or two key players out of the lineup, so it would be nice to see the team play at full strength for once. The team definitely needs to play a few games with the full squad before heading into the playoffs.
Finally, do not forget to cut out the ballot in Wednesday's edition of the Cape Breton Post, and cast your votes for the 10th anniversary all-time Cape Breton Screaming Eagles team! Fans are asked to choose two goalies, four defencemen, six forwards, and two tough guys to help make up a first and second all-time Screaming Eagles team for the past ten seasons.
Ballots can be brought to C200 over the two upcoming weekend games, and dropped off in ballot boxes located inside the arena. Have fun voting, and don't forget to use your write-in option if you feel that a deserving player has been left off of the ballot!