Brad Marchand all but stole a series from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles last year. He returns to the scene of the crime tonight and isn’t expecting a warm reception.
The Halifax Mooseheads forward was the catalyst behind the Val-d’Or Foreurs’ elimination of the Screaming Eagles in a classic seven-game QMJHL semifinal last year. In his last playoff contest in Sydney he scored the overtime winner in Game 5 to fuel Val-d’Or’s comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.
The Mooseheads, with a 2-0 lead in this year’s quarter-final, face the Screaming Eagles at Centre 200 tonight at 7.
“We had a rough ending, me and them, so I think they’ll be harpin’ at me pretty good up there,” Marchand said. “They were all over me last year. There were signs, posters, and people were throwing stuff at me after I scored the overtime winner.”
The 19-year-old Marchand piled up seven goals and five assists in last year’s seven-game series, and already has a goal and five assists in two games this time around.
If he’s not public enemy No. 1 in Sydney, nobody is.
“He pretty much was a one-man wrecking crew last year,” Screaming Eagles forward Robert Slaney said. “I can’t imagine they’ll like him too much back at Sydney.”
Marchand, a Boston Bruins draft choice, is anxious to finish off the Screaming Eagles with two more victories.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Marchand said. “When everybody’s harpin’ at me, that’s what gets me in the game, especially when it’s the other team and fans on my back.”
The Mooseheads have a daunting task, as the Screaming Eagles had a tremendous 25-8-0-2 home record this season.
Slaney, who had a hat trick in Game 2, said the first two games “could have gone either way,” and added that “there’s no reason we can’t take two games back in Sydney.”
“When we get back in front of our fans, we get a lot more confidence,” Slaney said. “Our rink’s a little different than everybody else’s and we’re used to it. We play more intense in our own rink and hopefully that helps us out.”
Halifax, the Q’s best road team in the regular season, had a 2-0 lead in the first round but let the Victoriaville Tigres back in the series after back-to-back road losses. The Mooseheads eventually won, and say they’ve learned their lesson.
They also know all about Cape Breton’s prowess at home.
“They really get out to quick starts up there,” Mooseheads goaltender Mark Yetman said. “They have great fans, they get the crowd behind them, and basically, we have to weather the first 10 minutes and then take it to them.”