AMHERST – It may only be exhibition, but this weekend’s games between the Amherst Ramblers and the Truro Bearcats will definitely have a regular season feel.
“Both teams are getting pretty close to finalizing their rosters and there are a few guys on the bubble. They’ll be wanting to make that final impression to make the team,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said Thursday. “The points don’t mean anything, but any time you play Truro you know it’s going to be an intense game.”
The Ramblers are coming off a dramatic six-game series win over Truro in last year’s Bent Division semifinal, while the Bearcats are getting ready to host the 2013 Fred Page Cup – a competition they won over Amherst last year.
Bottomley said the games will give the coaching staff a good indication of how the team will look on opening night.
“Our goal is to be competitive throughout the season and get to the playoffs,” Bottomley said. “Anything can happen once you get to the playoffs. Still, I think we are going to be competitive and we will be in the hunt all season.”
The Bearcats enter the game coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, while the Ramblers took two from the Dieppe Commandos last weekend – including a 6-5 overtime win last Sunday at the Arthur J. LeBlanc Arena.
The Ramblers open the regular season on Thursday in New Glasgow against the Weeks Crushers and are home to the defending league champion Woodstock Slammers on Saturday.
Truro opens their regular season on Friday against Campbellton.
Bottomley said he is thrilled with how the lineup is coming together and said the games against Truro will be a good measuring stick for the regular season.
“It will show us what we need to do to be competitive with a team like Truro that’s hosting the Fred Page Cup and trying to build a winner,” he said. “I like how our team is coming together, but we are still looking for one or two guys. I’m looking for someone to step up and play physical over the weekend. That seems to be our biggest need right now.”
The Ramblers’ coach said Ben Berisha, Maxime Richard and Brock Morrison worked very well against Dieppe last weekend, while Josh Pugsley centred Kody Orr and Ryan Caswell, and Brett Shute worked with Mitch O’Neil and Brett Arthur.
Jesse McInnis is centering Serge Boisvert and Yan Legace.
Tonight, the Moncton Wildcats will be in town to face the Saint John Sea Dogs in exhibition Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Tickets are available starting at 5 p.m.