SPRINGHILL – The regular season race is over and the playoff run starts tonight.
The Cumberland County Blues travel to Port Hawkesbury to face off against the Strait Pirates in the first round, best-of-seven Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League playoffs.
“We talked a lot about how we’re going to have to have some success on the road without home-ice advantage,” said Blues coach Dave Hyatt. “It’s going to be a big chore because Port Hawkesbury has had only one loss at home all season.”
The Blues play Wednesday and Friday in Port Hawkesbury and Hyatt hopes his team can win one of those games.
“As the series goes on it’s going to get harder and harder to win a game on the road, so we’re looking to get one of those two games down there,” he said.
A key to success will be slowing down the Pirates top line.
“We’re going to have to pay attention to the top unit of Jeremy Sheppard, Nick Allard and Marc Bourgeois because they account for a lot of the offence that comes from the Strait,” said Hyatt. “So we’ll have to find a way to limit their offence.”
Allard finished the regular season with 61 points, Sheppard with 50, and Bourgeois with 35.
Hyatt expects an intense series.
“When the playoffs start it gets tougher to battle for ice, it seems like everybody is physical and more committed to defence,” said Hyatt. “So it takes a lot of grit and determination to be successful.”
The Blues have several players who won the Atlantic Championship with the Blues in 2010.
“We’ve got a core of guys who have won league championships and gone to the Don Johnson Cup, so there is some experience there that we can draw on for sure,” said Hyatt. “We look at that as a definite asset.”
Hyatt hasn’t decided who will get the start in goal – either Charles Dubuc or Neill Kelly.
“Both goalies are coming off great efforts in their last game, so it will be a game-time decision.”
Today’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.