AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers hope to conclude the pre-Christmas portion schedule on a good note tonight when they travel to Bridgewater.
It will be first meeting between the two teams since a Nov. 17 game in Amherst when Jared Dodman of the Lumberjacks received a match penalty for boarding Ramblers’ rookie forward Josh Pugsley.
“I’m sure there will be some lasting memories of that game, but we have a lot of hockey to play the rest of the year and cannot afford to do anything that result in us losing players,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said Thursday. “We have moved on and we’re focusing on winning this hockey game and heading into the Christmas break on a positive.”
The Ramblers have played the Terry Rhindress-coached Lumberjacks twice, picking up a 10-1 decision in Amherst in mid-November and winning a 3-2 squeaker in Bridgewater earlier that month.
“Bridgewater is not a team you can take lightly. That gave Summerside a tough game and took Truro to a shootout last week. They are steadily improving and they’re playing in their own building,” Bottomley said. “It’s a small rink and they play very well in it.”
Bottomley said one of the keys will be keeping players focused since most of them will be leaving town over the weekend to spend time with their families over Christmas.
“I’m sure that will be on the minds on both teams, although most of our guys are from away,” Bottomley said. “Some of the guys are leaving right after the game and the rest are heading out the next morning. We worked hard all week to get ready for Truro, hopefully they’ll use it against Bridgewater.”
The Ramblers expect to have Brock Morrison back in the lineup tonight. Morrison injuried his shoulder two weeks ago against the Yarmouth Mariners and did not play last weekend.
Bottomley said Jeff MacPherson should rejoin the team right after the Christmas break.
The Ramblers’ coach said he is pleased with how the club is playing right now. He’s disappointed Wednesday’s game against Truro was cancelled by weather because it would have been a great test for the hockey club heading into the break.
A win tonight would pull the Ramblers to within four points of the second-place Bearcats and six back of first-place Yarmouth. It would also give them more breathing space from the Crushers, who sit four points back of Amherst.
The Crushers made a significant move on the trade front Thursday, sending forward Brennan Saulnier, a fifth round pick in 2014 and future considerations to Woodstock for Tim Rose, Evan Carmody and a third round pick in 2014.