Frankie Valli’s and the Four Seasons song “Oh what a Night” from 1975 was the dominant theme in the four games played in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League Friday night Jan 27/23 as all 4 were decided by shoot-out or in overtime. As a result with the regular season schedule set to conclude Sun Feb 26, team executives and fans are literally dying for their teams to clinch a playoff berth. After Friday, they are going to have to wait a little longer. The following is a run-down of the thrilling games played Friday:
Liverpool 4 East Hants 3 (SO)
The Privateers moved into a third place tie with the Sackville Blazers in the Fox Division with 24 points after securing a 4-3 shoot-out win on the road in Lantz versus the East Hants Penguins. The Colts are now 11-9-2 while East Hants is 14-3-3. It marked the fourth meeting of the season between these two clubs with every game being decided by a 4-3 margin. The Pens are 3-0-1 and Liverpool 1-2-1 in the four games with the Pens outscoring the Privateers 15-12. Joey Merriam put East Hants up 1-0 with his goal 29 seconds into the first period and Morgan Lake made it 2-0 Pens before Alec Howie brought Liverpool back to within a goal before the end of the first period. Sean Freeman who has been playing consistent and goal scoring hockey for the Pens of late put East Hants up 3-1 in the second and that is the way it stood after 40 minutes. The Pens could not come up with any goals in the third despite outshooting the Privateers 36-29 but Liverpool’s Malcom Bussey and then Daniel Kline tallied to tie the game at 3-3 and send it into sudden-death overtime. No scoring happened during this five minutes of action, so it went to a shoot-out that involved 4 rounds. Sean Freeman tallied again for the Pens but that was all the scoring they could do as Joe Osborne and then Dylan Patterson with the game winner gave the Privateers the 4-3 win. The two teams now return to Liverpool tonight before finishing their season series in Liverpool on Feb 11.
Antigonish 4 Membertou 3 (S0)
Two fierce rivals met in Antigonish Friday night but the Membertou Jr. Miners who are trying everything to secure a playoff spot have not been able to break the curse of overtime-shoot-out losses in their past 3 games. The latest one took place against the Jr. Bulldogs a shoot-out loss by the count of 4-3. This followed losses last weekend in overtime to Eskasoni 7-6 and Pictou 6-5. The Jr. Miners came out strong with Blake Cox scoring only 42 seconds into the game before Zachary Lorette tied it for Antigonish with 3:00 minutes to play in the opening frame. The Jr. Miners came out strong in the second and goals from Dylan MacDonald and Blake Cox, his second of the night gave Membertou a 3-1 lead after two periods. However as much as they needed that second point, they could not muster it as the Jr. Bulldogs Will Fitzsimmons and Ethan Twolan scored with less than five minutes to play to knot the game at 3-3. With no scoring in the rive-minute sudden-death, Will Fitzsimmons tallied the shoot-out winner for the Bulldogs who completed the season series 6-0-0 against the Jr. Miners outscoring them 24-14 in the process. The Jr. Miners finished 0-5-1 and now face the complexities of needing extraordinary help with only 4 games left in the regular season for them. One of them is tonight at home against Pictou, a win they desperately need and would actually put them 1 point ahead of the County Scotians for fourth place in the Sid Rowe Division. The Jr. Miners complete their regular season against the 2-18-1 Cumberland County Blues with a home game next Saturday and 2 in Springhill the following weekend but the only true hang-up for the Jr, Miners is that Pictou will have 8 games in hand on them after play tonight as the Scotians have 3 make-up games to play that are included in their final 8 as they have PPD games at home against Port Hawkesbury and Cumberland and a road game in Eskasoni.
Capstone Colts 5 Valley Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
The Valley Maple Leafs might be in last place in the Fred Fox Division but it certainly did not show at home against the 1st Place Capstone Colts Friday evening as the two teams were tied 1-1 after 1, 2-2 after 2 and 4-4 after 3 before Brady Stone scored the sudden-death overtime winner against the Leafs with 40 seconds having elapsed in OT. The Colts led 4-2 with under 8 minutes to play but could not hang on as Brent Levy and Dylan Schofield tallied to tie the game at 4-4 to send the contest into the five-minute sudden death. For Schofield, it was his 2nd of the game as he put the Leafs up 1-0 just 58 seconds into the contest. The other Leafs goal was scored by Ben McCarthy with 2:43 left in the middle period. For the Colts who are now 17-2-1 on the season for 35 points and 4 ahead of second place East Hants in the Fox Division, Cooper Puma, Cole Good, Stephen Warwick and Benjamin Veinot all scored prior to Stone’s winner in overtime for the Colts. Capstone outshot the Leafs 31-25.
Port Hawkesbury 5 Cumberland County 4 (SO)
For the second consecutive Friday in Springhill, the Strait Pirates were forced to extra time before being able to defeat the Blues, this time 5-4 on a shoot-out goal by Jason Johnson who also scored the Strait Pirates opening goal of the game. Brendan Rose tied it for the 2-18-1 Blues and the first period ended tied at 1-1. The Strait Pirates after allowing the Blues to go in front 2-1 on a goal from Callum MccLellan scored a pair with under three minutes to play in the second. Keir Jordan and Logan Saulnier tallied 51 seconds apart and the Pirates were up 3-2 going to the third. Daniel MacKenzie tied it for the Blues at 3-3 before the third was three minutes old. MacKenzie also recorded a pair of assists, The Blues went in front 4-3 on Callum Mccllelan’s second goal of the game before the Pirates Gregor Yoell scored the tying goal for the Strait with only 3:50 remaining. No scoring in the overtime and it took Johnson’s shoot-out goal to give the 11-8-2 and 3rd place Strait Pirates their one goal victory. Aiden MacAlease-Jay was extra sharp in the blues net as he stopped 53 of 57 shots with the Pirates outshooting the Blues 57-33.