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Evgeny and Andrei Svechnikov dreamed of the day their professional hockey paths would cross and on Thursday night it became a reality in Raleigh, N.C.
The brothers took to the ice as Andrei’s Carolina Hurricanes hosted Evgeny’s Detroit Red Wings in NHL action at PNC Arena.
Both first-round NHL draft picks, the game marked the first time the two had ever played against each other. Evgeny is 24 and played his major junior in Cape Breton, while Andrei is 20 and suited up for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League.
They almost played each other last season, however, the Red Wings elected to send Evgeny to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, a day before the game; and Evgeny was injured when the two teams met in January.
Evgeny spoke about the possibility of playing against Andrei in an interview with Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News on Wednesday.
“It was disappointing for sure (not playing in those previous two games), but you can’t control it,” Svechnikov told Kulfan. “It’s very exciting right now.”
Since his callup last month, Evgeny Svechnikov has appeared in five games with the Red Wings, posting three goals and four points.
Injuries have controlled Svechnikov’s career. If it wasn’t for the injuries, there’s no doubt he would be a regular in the Wings lineup at this point in his career.
Svechnikov is taking advantage of his NHL opportunity and if he can continue to produce points, while also playing well defensively, don’t be surprised if his Red Wings callup is permanent.
As for Thursday’s game, the Hurricanes defeated the Red Wings 5-2. Evgeny had an assist, while Andrei recorded a goal and an assist.
BRASSARD DUKES IT OUT
Former Cape Breton Eagles goaltender Francois Brassard made headlines when he found himself in a fight in an ECHL game last Sunday in West Virginia.
As a donnybrook line brawl ensued between the Wheeling Nailers and the Utah Grizzlies, Brassard was invited to centre ice by Grizzlies netminder Kevin Carr where the two duked it out.
The Nailers were up 6-1 with 10 seconds to play in regulation when the incident occurred. Brassard, who played 24 games with the Eagles during the 2014-15 season, got the better of Carr in the bout.
Some don’t like fighting in hockey, but admit it, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned goaltender fight to keep you interested in ECHL hockey during a global pandemic.
Although he only played 24 games with Cape Breton — and his numbers weren’t the greatest by any means — there’s one reason Brassard’s name may ring a bell.
Brassard made Eagles history on Dec. 14, 2014, when he became the first goaltender in the organization’s history to score a goal into an empty net against his former team, the Quebec Remparts.
Later in the season, he would do it again, this time as a member of the Gatineau Olympiques.
BATHERSON TIES RECORD
Staying with an Eagles-heavy column this week, Drake Batherson has been on fire with the Ottawa Senators as of late.
The New Minas native, son of North Sydney’s Norm Batherson and grandson of Matt and Kay Batherson, tied a Senators' franchise record on Monday, scoring in six consecutive games.
Batherson joins Bob Kudelski (1993-94), Daniel Alfredsson (2006-07), Dany Heatley (2006-07) and Jason Spezza (2009-10) as the record holders.
Oddly enough, in this column on Feb. 19, we mentioned how Batherson was a surprise to Senators fans and how the franchise’s decision not to rush the 22-year-old’s development would be worth the wait.
The column also predicted Batherson would put up big numbers in the future. Well, it didn’t take long, his goal streak began shortly after the column ran in the Post.
Yes, Drake, I’m taking credit for your recent surge in points.
But, in all seriousness, it was only a matter of time before Batherson began producing more offence for the rebuilding Senators. He has nine goals and 18 points in 25 games so far this season. The best has yet to come — take this to the bank.
FIRST PRO GOAL
Meanwhile, with the Ottawa Senators American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville, former Cape Breton Eagle Egor Sokolov scored his first professional goal on Wednesday night.
Sokolov had the Senators’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Stockton Heat at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ont.
The Russian picked up the puck in the slot — like many Eagles fans were used to seeing during his time in Sydney — and fired a shot past 2018 Calder Cup-winning netminder Garret Sparks.
It was a long time coming for Sokolov. From not being drafted in back-to-back years to finally hearing his name called last October and eventually signing an entry-level contract and playing pro, it was a bittersweet moment for the 20-year-old.
This couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid than Sokolov — a community volunteer, who was also a role model for Kyle and Ashley Ryan’s daughter Neico — Sokolov’s billets in Cape Breton — it’s great to see him having success at the pro level.
MARCIANO JOINS HABS
Turning our attention back to the NHL, former Cape Breton Eagles goaltending coach Marco Marciano joined the Montreal Canadiens as the team’s interim goaltender coach on Friday.
The 39-year-old, who worked with goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Martin Houle during his time in Sydney, joined the club after the Canadiens fired goalie coach Stephane Waite amid struggles for star goaltender Carey Price.
Marciano was already part of the Canadiens organization. He was the goaltender and video coach for the club’s AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket.
The Quebec native will only be with the NHL team for a short period of time. The club has promoted Sean Burke as their director of goaltending, however, he will have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine before joining the team.
The 54-year-old Burke has also been working with the Canadiens franchise as a professional scout for the Western region since 2016.
As for Marciano, he served as the goaltender and video coach of the Eagles from 2003-05. He also worked with the Cape Breton Jeans Exports — now known as the Sydney Mitsubishi Rush — as the club’s goalie coach.
CAPE BRETON PART OF N.S.
Cape Breton Eagles fans will never let Sportsnet live it down.
Last Saturday, the Rogers-owned sports network, based out of Toronto, posted on social media that Nova Scotia’s “lone” major junior hockey team — the Halifax Mooseheads — were forced to postpone games due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Let’s just say it didn’t sit well with Eagles fans.
A number of fans reacted to the post, making it clear Cape Breton Island was part of Nova Scotia and that Sydney has had a major junior franchise for 24 years.
To clarify, the story itself was written by The Canadian Press and never indicated the Mooseheads were the lone major junior team in the province. However, when Sportsnet posted the item on social media, they made the mistake.
The Eagles themselves laughed about the error, making a comment under the Twitter post.
As much as some may not want to believe it — or maybe they do believe it — we, in the media, do make mistakes and errors from time-to-time and unfortunately this was one of those mistakes.
For the record, we know Sportsnet knows better and it was just a mistake. In fact, the network has been to Cape Breton a couple of times for nationally televised games.
We forgive you, Sportsnet.
Keeping with this week’s trend, it was a busy week for news surrounding the Cape Breton Eagles and former players.
Last Saturday, Eagles head coach Jake Grimes and assistant coach Chris Culligan were tossed from the club’s game against the Charlottetown Islanders with 15:20 left in the third period.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing QMJHL officials from travelling outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality, the game was three-maned — which is now rare at high levels of hockey — by referee Jeff Hopkins as well as linesmen Stephen Clarke and Dave Ivey.
Although not confirmed, it was evident Grimes and Culligan weren’t happy with the officiating. It was the first time we’ve seen Grimes and Culligan tossed — nothing wrong with a little emotion, right?
Cape Breton goaltenders William Grimard and Nicolas Ruccia were recognized by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as part of the league’s saves of the week. Grimard and Ruccia were shown numerous times and the video can be found on the league’s website.
On Tuesday, Eagles defenceman Nathan Larose was named the QMJHL’s defenceman of the month for February after posting five goals and nine points in seven games. Meanwhile, River Denys’ Colten Ellis was an honourable mention for the goaltender of the month.
Earlier this week, former Eagles captain Shawn Element was named to the QMJHL’s team of the week. He had three goals and four points with a plus-5 rating in two games for the Victoriaville Tigers for the period ending Feb. 28.
Eagles forward Félix Paré played his 200th career game in the QMJHL on Feb. 21 against the Halifax Mooseheads in Halifax. Twelve of those games were with Cape Breton, while the other 188 were played with the Victoriaville Tigres.
Former Eagles Kevin Mandolese and Clark Bishop were reassigned to the Ottawa Senators taxi squad earlier this week. Both have yet to play a game with Ottawa.
Finally, former Eagle Mathias Laferrière recorded his 200th career regular-season point in the QMJHL on Feb. 18. He had a goal and two assists for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in a game against the Shawinigan Cataractes.
Here is the final installment of Cape Breton high school sports championship anniversaries for 2021.
Fifth anniversary (2006):
• Cape Breton Highlands Academy junior girls table tennis provincial championship
• Cape Breton Highlands Academy boys intermediate table tennis championship
• Cape Breton Highlands Academy girls intermediate table tennis championship
• Glace Bay High School baseball provincial championship
• Cape Breton Highlands Academy boys Division 3 soccer provincial championship
Have a note of interest you would like to see appear in this weekly column? Send it to Jeremy at [email protected] along with a name and phone number for contact purposes.
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