October is a busy month when it comes to sports in the Cape Breton community.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season is well underway, while the Atlantic University Sport soccer regular season is in the home stretch with team attentions quickly turning to the championship tournament.
BEST START SINCE 2008
The Cape Breton Eagles are off to their best start through 13 games since 2008-09.
The team currently has a 10-3-0-0 record, a promising sight for fans who hope this could be the year to bring the island its first major junior hockey championship.
Eagles general manager Jacques Carrière was in town last week for the team's games against Charlottetown and Halifax. He also traveled with the team to Halifax for Saturday's game before returning to Quebec. There's no surprise he's happy with the start, and rightly so.
Cape Breton proved it is among the top teams in the league over the past 13 games. The club's road trip through Quebec — which saw the group make stops in Rimouski, Baie-Comeau and Chicoutimi — solidified that fact.
Despite suffering a tough loss to Rimouski to begin the road trip, the team answered with back-to-back wins against Baie-Comeau and Chicoutimi, who are expected to be among the contenders in the league this season.
The club also picked up wins against Charlottetown and Halifax, both of whom have had good starts to their respective seasons.
Carrière has been on record as saying the team will make its final assessment at Christmas time, noting he planned to let the players decide what direction the team takes at the winter trade period in December.
As of now, one can assume the Eagles will likely be buyers come the trade period. With that being said, there's lots of hockey to be played, but things are certainly looking good for the time being.
Along with starting 10-3-0-0 in the 2008-09 season, the club also started 10-3-0-0 in 2007-08. The club's best start through 13 games in team history is 11-2-0-0, a feat accomplished in 2003-04.
CAPERS EYE AUS TOURNAMENT
The Cape Breton Capers soccer teams are in the home stretch of their AUS regular seasons and there's no surprise both clubs have already secured playoff berths in the Atlantic University Sport championship tournament.
The men's team continues its strong play in the league.
The club has a 9-0-1 record and sits first in the standings with 28 points. The team picked up big wins last weekend against St. Francis Xavier, a club which is in second place with 25 points, and the Memorial Sea-Hawks.
What many people don't realize is that the Capers, who over the past two weeks have been ranked No. 1 in the country, have not lost a regular-season game in the AUS since 2016. From 2017 to present, Cape Breton's regular-season record is 30-0-4 — remarkable by any standard.
As for the women's team, the club is surprising many in the league this season and has an 8-2-0 record, currently one point back of St. Francis Xavier for second place in the standings.
With seven rookies on this year’s team, many believed the club would take a step back, but once again veteran coach Stephen (Ness) Timmons has his team in position to secure a playoff bye, but will need help from another team to do that.
The women Capers will need to win the next two games against New Brunswick and Moncton this weekend, while needing Acadia to beat the X-Women on Friday in Wolfville.
If Cape Breton finishes third in the standings, they will be forced to play in the quarter-final in the AUS championship tournament, something the Capers haven't done since 2014.
Both the men's and women's AUS championship tournament will take place Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 at the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex in Sydney.
AWARENESS THROUGH HOCKEY
October is breast cancer awareness month.
In recent years, a number of local hockey teams have held Pink in the Rink games, wearing specially designed pink jerseys and socks in an attempt to bring breast cancer awareness to the community and show support for those who are currently fighting the disease or have beaten it.
Pink in the Rink is a trend that was started a number of years ago. Some teams raise money during the games for breast cancer research, while others simply bring support with the pink jerseys.
In previous years, teams including the Cape Breton Eagles, Eskasoni Eagles, MacIntyre Chevy Panthers, Cape Breton West Islanders and Joneljim Cougars have traded in their regular jerseys for pink ones. Other teams have also done similar events beyond October.
This month — as far we're aware — four teams have/will host events for breast cancer awareness.
The Islanders held their Pink in the Rink on Oct. 12 at the Al MacInnis Sports Centre, while the Joneljim Cougars held their fifth annual event last Saturday when they hosted The Rangers of East Hants. Eskasoni held its Pink at the Rink last Sunday.
The Cape Breton Eagles Pink at the Rink event will take place Saturday when they play Sherbrooke at Centre 200.
Over the weekend, I attended the major bantam team's Pink in the Rink event and kudos are in order to the organization, the players and the fans, many of whom wore pink to the game.
Saturday's contest was bigger than the game and more for the cause. The Cougars wore their pink jerseys and socks, while players from both teams had pink hockey tape on their sticks.
Well done, Cougars and Rangers.
More local teams should consider hosting important events like these — there's more to life than a game and Pink in the Rink is one way to prove that.
Jeremy Fraser covers sports for the Cape Breton Post. If you have a column idea, sports story or would like to give feedback about this week's Sports Chat, contact Jeremy by emailing email@example.com or follow @CBPost_Jeremy on Twitter.