Charlottetown Islander fans learned the name Nicolas Ruccia tonight.
The 16-year-old netminder, selected in the first round this past year by the Cape Breton Eagles in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, stood on his head in his first career outing. Ruccia came up with a number of highlight reel saves, finishing with 25 saves, while Eagles defender Jarrett Baker finished with a goal and two assists as Cape Breton defeated Charlottetown 6-2, splitting the weekend series in half.
“Unfortunately, we fell behind early and chased the game for most of the night,” said Islanders head coach Jim Hulton on the loss. “We failed to capitalize on some good chances that could have switched the momentum. Overall, we lacked the required level of urgency to win on the road.”
Ruccia played less like a rookie and more like a seasoned veteran. The Isles would pour a number of high-quality chances on the Laval, Quebec native but he’d stand tall each time. Giving the Eagles momentum throughout the game.
The Eagles would jump out to the 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Liam Kidney would force a turnover on an Islanders breakout and end up with a clear shot on goal. He makes no mistake in burying it to record his third goal of the season and second against the Islanders this weekend.
Cape Breton would extend the lead before the end of the period on the powerplay. Nathan Larose would get a shot through from the point that would beat Isles starter Jacob Goobie over the shoulder. For Larose, that would be his fourth goal on the early campaign and send the Isles into the dressing room down two.
Charlottetown would need a spark, and got it from a top rookie of their own. On a 2-on-1 play, Thomas Casey found a trailing Sam Oliver with a perfect pass and the 16-year-old would one-time it off the rush, going upstairs on an outstretched Ruccia for his first career QMJHL goal.
Unfortunately, the Eagles would restore the 2-goal lead in short form. Off a broken play in the Isles zone, Emile Hegarty-Aubin would find a loose puck in the slot and throw it on net through a pile of players, getting past Goobie for his first goal of the season.
The Isles would try to mount a comeback near the end of the second, once again overwhelming the Eagles defense with shot-after-shot, but Ruccia continued his strong play right through to the end of the second intermission.
Cape Breton would put the game on ice in the third period. On an early powerplay, Jarrett Baker would float a shot in from the point that beat Goobie clean over the shoulder once again. Cedric Desruisseaux would pull the game back within two midway through the third, but the Eagles would respond with two more goals of their own to make the score final.
Casey finished the game with two assists, while Keiran Gallant and Oscar Plandowski each picked up single assists. Casey continues some quietly torrid play, now with eight points in his first four games to start the season and four straight multi-point games.
The Islanders now have a week of rest back at home before they hit the road for the third weekend of the season with their first visit to Halifax against the Mooseheads. You can hear all the action live on Fair Isle Ford Isles Radio!