AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers can solidify their hold on third place in the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Eastlink Division with a win in New Glasgow tonight.
The Ramblers will face the Weeks Crushers for the first time since before Christmas when the club’s meet at Pictou County’s new Wellness Centre with nine points separating them in standings.
Game time is 7 p.m.
“Every game at this time of year is a big game. If we win this one it should pretty much nail down third place for us in the division, but it also allows us to stay in the race for first or second place,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said.
Amherst goes into tonight’s game with some regulars returning to the lineup, while several others are still on the mend. Defencemen Jamie Bishop and Cameron McDonald, who both sat out suspensions last weekend, are back tonight while forward Jeff MacPherson, who injured his foot in Yarmouth and sat out Saturday’s game against Bridgewater is also expected back.
Maxime Richard is still day-to-day while Ben MacDonald and Josh Pugsley are out of the lineup.
“It’s at a point in the season that we don’t want to rush anyone back from injury,” Bottomley said. “We’d love to have a full lineup again, but if it means someone not playing in the playoffs that’s a risk I don’t want to take.”
Richard suffered an upper body injury in a 6-1 loss to Truro last weekend and Bottomley said he is close to returning. MacDonald may be out a little longer while there’s a chance Pugsley, who was hurt against Bridgewater, may not return until the playoffs.
Despite the injuries and the loss of Bishop and McDonald to suspension, Bottomley said he was pleased with how the club played last weekend with several other players stepping up to put in solid games.
Bottomley said he has been pleased with the play of forwards Brock Morrison and Danny Harquail and feels Jacob Conrad, acquired from Bridgewater at the trading deadline, has fit in well in his new surroundings.
“Being down like we were last weekend could have been really bad for us as a hockey club, but it was a positive in how everyone else came together and stepped up their level of play,” Bottomley said. “We very well could have picked up four points, but there’s nothing wrong with going into Yarmouth with a short lineup and coming seconds away from winning.”
Bottomley said tonight’s game will be huge in that it will be the first time the teams have met since the Ramblers added Harquail, forward Shawn Wright and defenceman Morgan Walker, while the Crushers added several new players including former Moncton Wildcat Mitch Deruelle.
Amherst has seven games remaining, including three against the Crushers, two against the Summerside Western Capitals and single games against Metro and Dieppe.
Truro has six games left, including three with Yarmouth, two with Metro and one with Woodstock. The Crushers play three times against Amherst and single games against Bridgewater, Metro and Yarmouth.
NOTE – Cam McDonald must a big fan of Tim Hortons coffee. The Rambler defenceman was called up for a game with the Moncton Wildcats on Tuesday. He picked up a coffee on his way to the rink, rolled up the rim and won $5,000.