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Eagles take game #1 of the Hurley Cup series

Mike Sullivan

 

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have the early stranglehold on the inaugural Hurley Cup after skating to a 6-3 victory over the Mooseheads on Friday night at Centre 200.

With a little extra on the line this season Giovanni Fiore scored twice en route to being named the first star of the game. The Eagles leading scorer energized the healthy crowd of 4,347 in Sydney who turned out to watch the opener of the Battle of Nova Scotia which will wrap up Saturday afternoon at 2pm at Scotiabank Centre.

Halifax fell behind just 5:21 into the contest when Tyler Hylland scored the first goal in Hurley Cup history. He knocked one in from the side of the net that fooled nearly everyone in the building including the officials. The initial call was no goal but was overturned after a lengthy video review.

Vasily Glotov increased the lead to 2-0 as he ripped a short-side shot by Alex Gravel just 19 seconds into a power play. Anthony Sorrentino said three straight penalty kills by Cape Breton boosted the home team.

“I thought we played well but we had a few mental breakdowns and they seemed to gain momentum off their penalty kills in the first which led to us being on our heels a bit.”

Fiore had the Eagles fans on their feet with his 25th and 26th goals of the season coming in the opening 2:47 of the second period and the Mooseheads quickly found themselves in a 4-0 deficit. That spelled the end of the night for Gravel after he allowed four goals on 12 shots. Newcomer Blade Mann-Dixon took over, stopping 20 of 21 the rest of the way. Max Fortier gave his team life when he took advantage of a turnover in front of Eagles netminder Kyle Jessiman and buried the shot for his 19th goal of the season. That made the score 4-1 going into the final 20 minutes.

Captain Taylor Ford takes a shot as Drake Batherson closes in

Head of Chezzetcook native Dillon Boucher’s goal early in the third period was a dagger for the Mooseheads but true to the coaching style of Andre Tourigny the Herd did not quit and mounted a comeback attempt. Brad Kennedy and Anthony Sorrentino scored back to back power play goals to put Halifax within reach at 5-3 and suddenly the Moose had plenty of momentum. That crashed to a halt when Drake Batherson dumped the puck into an empty net as the Mooseheads gambled by pulling their goaltender with nearly four minutes remaining in regulation.

“We needed to score two goals and we trust our coaching staff. I believe it was the right move to make,” Sorrentino said of the decision to pull Mann-Dixon.

Fortier added an assist in the game to up his QMJHL best points total to 56. Bradley Kennedy also had a multi-point game for the Moose with a goal and an assist. Other players picking up helpers for Halifax included; Jared McIsaac and Otto Somppi.

The Mooseheads have their work cut out for them in order to secure the Hurley Cup which is based on aggregate scoring. The first tie-breaker is goals in the opponent’s building while the second tie-breaker for this season only is the team who scored the first ever Hurley Cup goal (scored by Cape Breton’s Hylland). With those rules it would take at least a 4-1 victory on Saturday to give the Mooseheads the Cup.

“I think we need to carry the momentum we gained from the last half of the game into tomorrow. We were tough to play against, put pucks behind their defence and created turnovers.”

Fans are encouraged to dress up in Mooseheads paraphernalia to help support the team and for a chance to win one of the hundreds of prizes to be handed out at random.

Halifax and Cape Breton will continue to wear their special Battle of Nova Scotia jerseys which will again be raffled off to fans at the game. Fans who bring a food bank donation to the game in support of Feed Nova Scotia will receive a ballot to win one of the game-worn jerseys.

Tickets are available now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or by phone at 902-451-1221.

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