Hockey fans filled the stands at the Digby arena for a second weekend in a row.
“I love seeing the rink full,” said rink supervisor Danny Harvieux after the CJHL Prospects game Nov. 10. “For two Saturday nights in a row. I’ve never seen that in Digby.”
Harvieux estimates there were 2,300 people in the rink for those two weekends combined.
The first Saturday, Nov. 3, Canada East played Canada West in an exhibition match before the World Junior A Hockey Challenge taking place last week in Yarmouth.
This weekend Digby hosted the first of a two-game series between the top 40 draft-eligible players in Canada.
“These guys were skating hard,” says Harvieux. “I think it was a better game. There was maybe a bit more individual play, guys not making the pass, maybe making that extra move themselves.
“You could tell they were fighting for a job, trying to impress the scouts.”
Harvieux says 30 scouts came to the game—NHL scouts from Tampa, Vancouver and Los Angeles among them and even a GM.
The first period Saturday night looks quiet on paper—no goals and no penalties—but fans at the rink were treated to lots of fast end-to-end hockey.
The West buried the East in the second period—Sean MacTavish of Edmonton scored twice within five minutes, both times assisted by Joseph Druplak and Dante Hahn. Ryan Berlin added a third before the end of the second.
The third period opened with a smash when the West’s Cooper Rush put a puck through the glass—reportedly the second time he’s done that this year.
Andrew Taverner scored on the power play in the third to make it 4-0.
The East pulled their goalie with a minute and a half to go—the West’s Hahn broke out with the puck and put away an empty netter.
Canada West returns to Yarmouth today with a five goal lead in the two-game total-goal series.
MacTavish won player of the game for the West and Yarmouth’s Morgan Messenger got the nod for the East.
Harvieux says everything came together better then he hoped.
“Even when picking up the players suddenly became our responsibility,” says Harvieux. “Cindy and I made a couple calls and within an hour we had enough people lined up to do it.”
He says his favourite moment of the two games centred around a goal he didn’t even see.
Last week Russia seemed to be coming back against Canada East late in the third— Canada’s captain Michael Neville took a big hit at centre ice, but stood up and then scored.
“I was walking in front of the stands and I looked up and everyone stood up at once and was cheering,” says Harvieux. “They were going crazy. That’s the kind of moment I was hoping we could give hockey fans here. Something they won’t forget—something I won’t forget either and I didn’t even see the goal.”