You couldn't really ask for a more successful playoff game.
The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles came out in front of a packed house that had high expectations of the team and was expecting results, and boy did they deliver in Game One of their second round series against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Cape Breton dominated the game almost start-to-finish, holding the high-flying Titan to only a handful of decent scoring chances, and hemming them up in their zone for much of the final two periods. The Eagles also showed excellent discipline, taking just two penalties over the entire course of the hockey game.
The boys got on the scoreboard with a powerplay goal that featured some phenomenal passing, with the play finished off with one of Cam Fergus's patented lasers to the top shelf, glove side. That gave them a 1-0 lead after one. In the second, Chris Culligan was behind the Titan net and caught goaltender Antoine Tardif looking the wrong way. He then feathered a pass out front in the opposite direction to where Scott Brannon was waiting to tap it in for a 2-0 lead. The game's final goal came as a result of some great work by the third line. Brad Gallant did an excellent job forcing a turnover, and then he and Jo Laberge tic-tac-toed it to Brendon MacDonald for his first career QMJHL playoff goal. Brannon's goal was also his first in the Q playoffs.
But the biggest "first" achieved on the night was the shutout. Ondrej Pavelec, and the excellent overall team defense, combined for the first playoff shutout in team history. As well, this is the first time Cape Breton has ever won the first game of a series against Bathurst............. and the first time they have ever led a playoff series against Bathurst, period.
All four lines were excellent and did their jobs fully. The Fergus line provided flash and dash and created tons of scoring chances, including a powerplay goal. The Sheppard line was possibly the best of the night, shutting down the Beauregard/Perreault line and contributing a tally of their own. The Laberge/MacDonald/Gallant line outplayed Bathurst's young third line, and scored a goal. Finally, the JC Gauthier/Quesnel/MacNeil line kept the Titan pinned inside their blueline on many a shift.
All six defencemen were rocks, including lots of big hits from Beau Prokopetz and Luc Bourdon, and goaltender Pavelec made the saves when called upon.
Almost as close as you can get to a perfect performance, and it all came in front of a very enthusiastic and appreciative sold-out crowd.
That's what playoff hockey is all about, and the boys will try to do it all again tomorrow night!
How sweet it would be to head to Bathurst up two games to none; GO EAGLES GO!