Lumberjacks sweep Ramblers with 8-3 victory

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST -- The Ramblers lost 8-3 to the Bridgewater Lumberbacks in Game 2 of their best-of-three Maritime Junior A Hockey League first-round playoff series tonight at the Stadium. Bridgewater wins the series 2-0.

Following is the live blog transcript.

Pre-game notes -- Bridgewater won the opener 5-2 on home ice Tuesday, with Shawn Frank scoring once and adding four assists for the winners. Mickey MacDonald added a goal and three helpers. Brandon Street had a goal and an assist for the Ramblers ... Amherst won both meetings at the Stadium during the regular season, 4-2 on Sept. 26 and 8-4 on Jan. 5 ... Both teams were 1-for-3 on the power play in Game 1 ... If Game 3 is necessary, it is scheduled for Friday in Bridgewater at 7 p.m. ... The series winner faces the Truro Bearcats in the best-of-seven Bent Division semifinals.

7 p.m. -- Teams out for the warmup. Kodi Estey the lone scratch for Amherst, which is wearing its white jerseys tonight. Matt Fitzgibbons is in for Sam MacCormick, the only change for Bridgewater from Game 1.

Starting goaltenders are Phillip Wright for Bridgewater and Jon Waye for Amherst.

Referee is Steve Starzomski.

7:34 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. Checking line of Kody Orr, Scott Bragg and Mitchell O'Neill out against Bridgewater's top unit of Mickey MacDonald, Shawn Frank and Jordan Burke. Eric Boudreau and Ryan Matheson on defence.

7:35 p.m. -- Other line combos for Amherst are Justin Matthews with Jeremy Barron and Brandon Street, Peter Baldwin centering Jon Pardy and Josh Coleman, and Trevor Layton between Simon Bissonnette and Shane O'Byrne. Boudreau with Yohann Mathieu and Matheson with Brandon Mercer to go with Drew McLaughlin and Wes Herrett on defence.

7:36 p.m. -- Ramblers strike first. Jon Pardy with a weak shot as he's pushed to the ice by Anthony Pisano, but Wright can't handle it and the puck flips up and over him and crawls over the line at 1:38. Ryan Matheson with the assist. 1-0 Ramblers

7:38 p.m. -- 2:35 in and the shots are 6-0 Amherst. Home side off to a good start.

7:40 p.m. -- Shawn Frank gets through on a one-on-two and draws the game's first penalty. Brandon Mercer to sit at 3:38 for interference.

7:41 p.m. -- Kody Orr takes a slapshot just above the right knee and hobbles to the bench, where he's walking it off.

7:43 p.m. -- Orr back out there with Mitchell O'Neill on the PK.

7:43 p.m. -- Penalty over. Bridgewater with just one shot on goal on the PP.

7:45 p.m. -- Giveaway by Shane O'Byrne results in the Lumberjacks first goal. Byrne tried a one-time pass to a teammate in his own end, but it was intercepted by Taite Paul, who fed it to Sam Labenski, who then slid a forehand deke under Waye's pad at 7:02. 1-1

7:48 p.m. -- Momentum with the Lumberjacks now, really putting pressure on the Amherst defence.

7:50 p.m. -- 9:47 left in the period. Shots now 7-7.

7:52 p.m. -- Ramblers not crisp on their breakouts. Bridgewater playing a very solid fundamental game.

7:54 p.m. -- 6:50 remaining. Faceoff to Waye's right.

7:58 p.m. -- Amherst with its first man advantage. Jeremy Barron chopped down in the Lumberjacks end, and Scott Theriault called for tripping at 16:33.

8:01 p.m. -- Scott Bragg takes a run at Anthony Pisano as Kody Orr takes the puck upice. Jeff Marchand grabs a hold of Orr as the whistle blows and they are locked up for a good 20 seconds. Orr called for interference, and Marchand and Bragg for roughing after the whistle at 17:53. Orr had the puck, so I don't know how that was interference. Orr should've had roughing after the whistle and Bragg interference.

8:04 p.m. -- Bridgewater on the PP now. Final minute of the first.

8:05 p.m. -- Penalty over and period over. Shots 12-11 Bridgewater.

After 20 minutes -- Ramblers had some jump to start, but the Lumberjacks were winning most of the one-on-one battles for the last 15 minutes. Amherst needs to be stronger on the puck, especially in its end of the rink.

8:20 p.m. -- Second period has started.

8:22 p.m. -- Lumberjacks have taken the lead. Jeff Marchand left unchecked in the slot after Shawn Frank and Mickey MacDonald nearly convert a two-on-one. Frank and MacDonald draw the assists at 1:14. 2-1 Lumberjacks

8;27 p.m. -- Kody Orr is around a Bridgewater defender, but the puck is rolling and he sends it up and out of play. 15:46 left in the period.

8:31 p.m. -- 13:45 to go. Faceoff at the Bridgewater blueline.

8:33 p.m. -- Crowd has been pretty quiet since the early flurry. Ramblers still seem a step behind and always playing catch-up to the puck, and that results in the second Bridgewater power play. Ryan Matheson called for slashing at 8:46.

8:36 p.m. -- Bridgewater all over the Ramblers on the PP, but Amherst manages to kill it off. Crowd senses that could be a turning point. 9:07 left in the period.

8:38 p.m. -- Waye robs Scott Theriault on the doorstep. At the other end, Kody Orr almost gets enough of a Brandon Mercer point shot to tip it in, and draws a penalty when Theriault cross-checks him. Amherst on the PP at 11:26.

8:42 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers not getting shots at the net.

8:42 p.m. -- Bridgewater going back on the PP. Shane O'Byrne sent off for hooking at 14:07.

8:43 p.m. -- Lumberjacks up by two. Waye gets a piece, but not all of a R.D. Chisholm point shot and it trickles in at 15:04. Assists to Mickey MacDonald and Shawn Frank. 3-1 Lumberjacks

8:46 p.m. -- Kody Orr sent flying by Jeff Marchand while reaching for a stretch pass. Scott Bragg jumps to Orr's defence and they wrestle to the ice. Marchand gets two for interference and two for roughing after the whistle, and Bragg gets roughing after the whistle. All this at 16;27. Amherst on the power play.

8:50 p.m. -- Amherst within one. Trevor Layton, getting PP time with Bragg in the box, works a give-and-go with Mitchell O'Neill to get some space, then wires a wrist shot over Wright's glove hand at 17:58. Power play goal which the hosts desperately needed. 3-2 Lumberjacks

8:51 p.m. -- Ramblers have tied it. Jeremy Barron capitalizes on a clearing attempt by Wright and slides the puck through the five-hole at 18:20. Barron skates right by Wright after the goal and words are exchanged. Unassisted and a gift goal to just kill Bridgewater's momentum. 3-3

8:55 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 14-9 Bridgewater in the second, 26-20 Lumberjacks through two.

After 40 minutes -- Bridgewater on the verge on taking complete control of this game until the Marchand penalty and the giftwrap goal by Barron. Ramblers being outplayed for huge chunks of this game but are hanging around thanks in large part to Waye.

9:11 p.m. -- Third period underway.

9:12 p.m. -- Scott Bragg has tried a couple of times tonight to sneak in behind the Bridgewater defence on a stretch pass, but has yet to convert.

9:14 p.m. -- Peter Baldwin has his pocket pick by Scott Theriault at the Amherst blueline, resulting in a scoring chance for the visitors.

9:18 p.m. -- Bridgewater re-takes the lead. Jeff Marchand goes coast-to-coast and is barely touched, sliding a deke through the five-hole at 4:56. He cruised down the middle of the ice with token resistence from the Ramblers defence. 4-3 Lumberjacks

9:21 p.m. -- Action getting a bit more heated. Scott Bragg hit in the face by Anthony Pisano's stick on a follow-through on a pass. Bragg goes down but no penalty called. Bragg not bleeding as he gets back up. Jake Lewis knocks over Waye at the other end and Brandon Mercer lays in some shots, and no call there.

9:22 p.m. -- Bridgewater on the PP. Shane O'Byrne called for slashing at 7:01.

9:23 p.m. -- Lumberjacks back up by two. Jordan Burke deposits a rebound home at 8:12. Assist to Taite Paul. Goal was announced as Shawn Frank from Paul, but Burke scored it. 5-3 Lumberjacks. O'Byrne not having a good night - second PP goal with him in the box and his giveaway cost them a goal in the first.

9:23 p.m -- Amherst takes its timeout. Ramblers need to regroup right now.

9:25 p.m. -- And now Anthony Pisano has scored. All Bridgewater at 8:46. Assists to Jake Lewis and Matt Snow. 6-3 Lumberjacks

9:26 p.m. -- Penalty to Amherst's Justin Matthews for high-sticking at 8:58. Jeremy Barron with a misconduct to boot. The season is rapidly slipping away for the home side.

9:27 p.m -- Just as that sentence is typed, it's a four-goal Bridgewater lead. Jordan Burke from R.D. Chisholm and Mickey MacDonald at 9:19. 7-3 Lumberjacks

9:31 p.m. -- 8:14 to go and the crowd is looking for a scrap from someone.

9:33 p.m. -- Bridgewater in full prevent defence mode, as they know they've got this one and are keeping forwards back.

9:34 p.m. -- Amherst back on the PP with Anthony Pisano called for slashing at 14:04.

9:35 p.m. -- Yohann Mathieu's point shot is blocked and Jake Lewis is sprung on a breakaway by Jeff Marchand, beating Waye on a forehand deke at 15;26. Shorthanded goal and the final nail in the coffin. 8-3 Lumberjacks

9:38 p.m. -- Puck is iced by Amherst with 2:46 left.

9:40 p.m. -- 1:41 remaining. Bridgewater fans who made the trek are celebrating.

9:41 p.m. -- Final minute.

9:42 p.m. -- Barron out of the box with 17.7 seconds left.

9:42 p.m. -- Game over. Shots 9-6 Bridgewater in the third, 35-26 Lumberjacks for the night.

Three stars -- 1. Mickey MacDonald, Bridgewater; 2. Jordan Burke, Bridgewater; 3. Jeff Marchand, Bridgewater.

Final thoughts -- Bridgewater's top players were at their best with the game on the line, and Amherst simply couldn't match them. Lumberjacks have 10 overagers to the Ramblers' one, and a veteran team stayed composed down the stretch while a younger, inexperienced squad took costly penalties and paid dearly for it.

But this is how young teams get experience by learning the bitter taste of defeat, and now the onus rests on management to identify what needs to be improved upon and make the necessary changes going forward.

With a sale of the franchise on the table and the full scope of the Adam Chipman and Derek Smith trade yet to be revealed, it should be an interesting offseason.

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