AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers can jump into second place in the Eastlink Division standings Wednesday when they host the Truro Bearcats.
Game time at the Amherst Stadium is 7:30 p.m.
“There’s no question it’s our biggest game so far this year. We were really looking forward to playing them right before the Christmas break but the game was cancelled because of the weather,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said. “It will be a good test for our hockey club.”
The Ramblers are coming off picking up three out of a possible four points in action last weekend, including a 10-5 win over the Dieppe Commandos and a 4-3 shootout loss to the Woodstock Slammers.
Bottomley said the game will be a good gauge for the Ramblers as they move deeper into the season. The Fred Page Cup host Bearcats are building for the eastern Canadian championship tournament and with Yarmouth could be battling Amherst for the top three spots heading into the post season. With the Weeks Crushers only a few points out of third, it could be a four-horse race down the stretch.
“It could give us a good idea of where we stand the rest of the year. We had a close game with them the last time in a 3-2 loss down there. We didn’t really have a great game, so the guys are really looking forward to this game,” Bottomley said.
Bottomley said keys for his club will be grabbing an early lead and avoiding turnovers in the neutral zone. He also hopes his club plays a physical game against the Bearcats and keeps the puck deep in the offensive zone.
“We picked up a few bad habits in the game against Dieppe, but we certainly cured that in Sunday’s game. The guys know how important it is to keep the goals against down. We know that if we keep it to three or less our chances are good,” he said.
With the trading deadline coming later this week, Bottomley said he is continuing to explore possible deals. He stressed he isn’t going to make a trade for the sake of making one. He only plans on making a deal if it will have an immediate impact on the club. He also doesn’t plan to mortgage the future by trading any of his top 19-year-olds away.
“Right now there isn’t much out there. There are a lot of teams looking at a few players,” he said. “With the Quebec league trading period ending you should start seeing some movement. I think tomorrow (Wednesday) will be a busy day for everybody.”
The Ramblers traded defenceman Jeff Krichew to the Commandos on Monday for Dieppe’s fifth round selection in this summer’s MHL draft and the rights to goaltender Nathan Armstrong, who is playing Junior A out west.
Krichew was let go by the team in December.