AMHERST – A lot of things have changed since the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers last faced the Weeks Crushers in early December.
Both teams made several changes at the Maritime Junior Hockey League trading deadline, not only adding offence but also adding a lot of grit. The Ramblers host the Crushers in MHL action on Saturday at 7 p.m. in what promises to be a hard-hitting affair.
The game is the first of two key division matchups this weekend for the Ramblers, who travel to Truro on Sunday to face the Bearcats in another battle for second place in the Eastlink Division standings.
“Every game is important now. We’re trying to inch our way ahead, but we can’t overlook Pictou. They’ve made some key additions since Christmas that have given them some size and offence,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said last night.
“We need to win both games this weekend because we need to keep pace with Truro and Yarmouth, but we also have to be mindful of Pictou. They’re going to be trying to gain on us.”
Last week, the Ramblers picked up some momentum and temporarily moved into second spot in the division with a pair of wins over Truro, a shootout win over the first-place Yarmouth Mariners and a win on home ice last Saturday against the Metro Shipbuilders.
While a week off threatens to disrupt that momentum, Bottomley said the club has had some high tempo practices over the past few days to prepare for this weekend’s games.
“We have to be ready right out of the gate. We played with a lot of intensity last week and it’s something we need to have again this weekend,” Bottomley said.
The Crushers are on a roll of their own, beating the Woodstock Slammers last week while also picking up wins against both Truro and Yarmouth.
Amherst will be without defenceman Ben MacDonald, who suffered a slight concussion against Yarmouth last week. Morgan Walker will take his spot in the lineup.
On Twitter: @ADNdarrell