Home cooking: East Hants locals on QMJHL Eagles practice on home ice

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LANTZ: The East Hants/Beaver Bank connection to the Cape Breton Eagles relived some fond memories from their younger minor hockey careers when they hit the ice with their QMJHL teammates for a practice Dec. 27 at the East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz.

With the QMJHL season resuming Dec. 28 in Halifax, the Eagles took advantage of the East Hants Sportsplex’s close proximity to Halifax Stanfield Airport to get the holiday legs out and prepare for the second half of the season.

As the players on the teams that had gone home for the holidays were rejoining the team and flying in to Halifax Stanfield, the Eagles scheduled a team practice on Ice Pad B in the Sportsplex. Cape Breton was in Halifax to face the Mooseheads on Dec. 28, before hosting the Herd in Sydney on Dec. 29. Their practice followed one held by the Major Bantam Rangers.

The Eagles have a connection to East Hants through assistant coach Matt Anthony of Shubenacadie; and two players, Shaun Miller and Liam Kidney both of Enfield. There is a third player from nearby Beaver Bank in Ryan Francis, a potential pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Getting the chance to hit the ice at the rink that they grew up playing in was something special for both Anthony and Miller, a 20-year-old in his final QMJHL season.

”It’s pretty cool,” said Anthony, who was a star with the East Hants Junior Pens at the Sportsplex. “It made a lot of sense geographically as a lot of the guys were flying in to the airport. It’s pretty neat to be back on the ice here.”

Miller said he never thought he’d get to don a Eagles jersey inside the Sportsplex.

“I was super stoked when I found out we would get to practice here,” said Miller. “I wish it was the Keith Miller, but Ice Pad B is just as good.”

He said it did bring back memories.

“It’s always nice to come home,” he said. “It was nice being home for Christmas, and this is just an extra special touch on the cake to have a practice here at the Sportsplex like good old times.”

Matt Anthony and Liam Kidney watch a drill during the practice. (Healey photo)

Anthony said expectations are high for the remainder of the season. He’s thrilled to be part of the organization.

“It’s a really special group of staff and players,” he said. “I think we’re right there in the mix and have added a couple big additions.

“I think we have a strong team. We have a veteran team, and two good goalies.”

Miller agreed.

“I think we’re a pretty intimidating team,” he said. “Hopefully we can put it all together and have a dominant second half of the season.”

Cape Breton won both of the Hurley Cup games, winning 7-1 in Halifax and 5-3 in Sydney. Francis led the way in the win in Halifax of the locals, assisting on two goals, while Kidney had one assist. On Sunday, Kidney had a goal and Miller had an assist.

MAIN PHOTO: East Hants players on the Cape Breton Eagles (from left) Shaun Miller; Liam Kidney; assistant coach Matt Anthony and Beaver Bank’s Ryan Francis all got the chance to get the winter break rust off during a quick practice at the East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz on Dec. 27. (Healey photo)