Sports stats

 Cape Breton Eagles

Eagles Confident in Sticking to “identity” in First Round: Eagles Recap: April 3, 2024

April 3, 2024 - Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)
Cape Breton Eagles News Release

Robitaille credits depth for early series success

In what was evident throughout the first three games of the Cape Breton Eagles first round series with the Rimouski Oceanic, the Eagles club have created an identity in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and they have no plans on changing it anytime soon.

In what resulted in back to back decisive wins in front of jam-packed crowds at Centre 200 in Game 1 and Game 2, the Eagles continued reliance on hard-nosed, defensive hockey from all four lines helped firmly sit them in the driver's seat heading back to Rimouski where the series will be on the line on Wednesday night.

Following his club's 7-3 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night, head coach Louis Robitaille said getting goals from all areas of the lineup is "who we are."

"All year long, it has been about our depth. Doing everything as a team effort," he said. "It is important (to have depth) because you can't have the same guys every night producing. If you look at the way the third line, fourth line have been playing, they felt comfortable and really played to our identity by making it tough to play against."

Robitaille identified shot blocking as one of the key components to the Eagles defensive success so far this series.

"We dont play to score, we play the game regardless of the score. To win, it takes sacrifice and it is really easy to fold and just say 'I am going to do it next game' but no, we created a habit and we need to do that every night."

Following Game 2, Rimouski Oceanic head coach Joël Perrault told reporters his team is struggling to find rebounds due to the shutdown play of the Eagles defenders.

"I think everyone, five on five has been struggling. It is not like we have been getting a lot of quality chances. Like when we do create the first chance, we are having a hard time finding rebounds. (Cape Breton) is a big team. They are strong, they're big, they're heavy...".

The Eagles defensive play continued in what proved to be a critical Game 3 on Tuesday night in Rimouski.

Penalty trouble once again held the Eagles to a disadvantage five times in Tuesday's game, however the shutdown penalty kill left minimal scoring opportunities for the Oceanic who now find themselves on the brink of elimination on Wednesday night.

Record Crowds

During a regular season when the Cape Breton Eagles seen a 20 per cent increase in average game attendance from last season, fans came in waves to show their support throughout the opening games of the first round series this past weekend.

After the Eagles clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs for the first time since 2017, 8108 fans flocked to Centre 200 to cheer on their home town teams over two nights; the largest combined back-to-back crowds in nearly 20 years.

In March 2009, 8102 fans attended back-to-back games against the Saint John Sea Dogs, while 8461 attended a double-header in 2004 against Chicoutimi.

Game 1 in Sydney was the second most attended game in the QMJHL on Friday night behind the crowd of over 8000 in Halifax.

After having an average crowd of 2340 fans during the regular season at Centre 200, 4289 fans gathered at Centre 200 for the playoffs opening night, an increase of 83 per cent from the regular season average and the largest increase in the entire Canadian Hockey League.

Squires goal-scoring leading CHL

Whether it's the regular season or the playoffs, Cam squires scores goals.

After closing out his second straight 30-goal season and being named the Eagles top scorer in March, the 18-year-old's hot hands have continued throughout the first three games of the first round.

Two back-to-back four point campaigns at Centre 200 this past weekend and a two goal effort, including an empty net in Game 3 in Rimouski leaves Squires in the top spot in league playoff scoring and the leading scorer across the entire Canadian Hockey League as of April 3.

Heading into game four, Squires is on the edge of history as he sits just one point out of the Cape Breton Eagles franchise lead in points in a single series with 11. Even more impressive is how Squires can tie or surpass this record in only four out of a possible seven games played in a single series.

The current record is held by David Cloutier from the 2001-2002 playoff season, where he notched 11 points in just five games.

Pos Player Team Season GP Record

1 David Cloutier Cape Breton 01-02 5 11

2 Dominic Noël Cape Breton 01-02 6 10

2 Giovanni Fiore Cape Breton 15-16 7 10

2 Maxim Lazarev Cape Breton 15-16 5 10

2 Evgeny Svechnikov Cape Breton 15-16 6 10

2 Drake Batherson Cape Breton 16-17 7 10

2 Mitchell Balmas Cape Breton 18-19 6 10

8 Dominic Noël Cape Breton 01-02 5 9

8 Chris Culligan Cape Breton 06-07 7 9

8 James Sheppard Cape Breton 06-07 7 9

8 Chris Culligan Cape Breton 07-08 5 9

8 Michael Joly Cape Breton 15-16 6 9

• Discuss this story on the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League message board...

Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League Stories from April 3, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

OurSports Central