Kicker: Maritime Junior Hockey League
AMHERST – Consistency can often mean the difference between a championship caliber hockey team and an also ran.
It’s something Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach Jim Bottomley is trying to stress to his players as they enter the homestretch in the race for the Eastlink Division regular season banner.
Amherst will get another chance to tighten things at the top tonight when they host the Truro Bearcats in Maritime Junior Hockey League action at the Amherst Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
“It comes down to us playing three periods of hockey,” Bottomley said Tuesday. “We didn’t do it on Saturday against Yarmouth and it cost us. We know for us to compete with those elite teams we know we have to be working hard for a full 60 minutes. We can’t afford to take any time off or get distracted.”
Bottomley said it will be important for the Ramblers to avoid turnovers and keep the puck deep in Truro territory.
The game comes following a 4-1 win in Truro on Sunday night – the club’s first win over the Fred Page Cup host Bearcats this season. That win came 24 hours after the Ramblers blew a one-goal lead early in the third period en route to a 6-4 loss to the Yarmouth Mariners on Saturday.
“On Saturday we played great hockey for a period and a half. We took a penalty and the momentum shifted. We came out flat in the third period,” Bottomley said. “In Sunday’s game we fell behind a goal but didn’t get down. We just kept coming, got a lot of shots on goal and put in a complete game.”
In Sunday’s game, third period goals by Jacob Conrad and Danny Harquail (into an empty net) broke open a 2-1 game and propelled Amherst to the win, just two weeks after blowing a pair of two-goal leads in a 6-5 shootout loss at home to Truro.
While teams such as Truro and Yarmouth have the resources to bring in a lot of players with major junior experience, Bottomley said his team brings strong chemistry to the game. That work ethic has translated into success so far this season and it’s something he hopes continues during the final 14 games of the regular season.
“They’re really working hard together as a unit and our success comes from that hard work,” he said.
Bottomley expects to use the same lineup as Sunday, adding Shawn Wright had a solid game in Truro.
Amherst received honourable mention in the CJHL Weekly Top 20 rankings that came out on Monday. The Roger Meek Division leading Summerside Western Capitals are ranked third nationally, Yarmouth is ranked seventh (up from ninth) and Truro is ranked eighth (up from 10th).
Ramblers’ captain Kody Orr is on a 17-game points streak dating back to Nov. 23, a 4-1 loss to the Campbellton Tigers. Danny Harquail has goals in four straight games.