HL: Vikings begin pivotal series with Schooners
Sub: Last chance to get to provincial Division 2 tournament
By Darrell Cole
Amherst Daily News
AMHERST – The ARHS Hockey Vikings have one more shot at earning a berth in the NSSAF Division 2 provincial tournament in Pictou County later this month.
The Vikings, who lost 1-0 in double overtime to the Northumberland High Nighthawks in the regional final on Friday, will travel to Musquodoboit Harbour Tuesday to open their best-of-three qualifying series with the Eastern Shore Schooners – a team Amherst has beaten in their only two matches this season.
“We know they are going to be a much better hockey team than the one we faced earlier this season,” Vikings’ coach Wayne MacKenzie said Monday. “The last time we played them they had a lot going on and it affected them. They’re a good hockey team and we’ll have to play good hockey to beat them.”
Game time in Musquodoboit Harbour is tonight at 6 p.m.
Game 2 is Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Amherst Stadium with the third game, if necessary, being played after the March Break.
The Vikings played the Schooners at a tournament in Kingston before Christmas. It was after their game that two parents with the Eastern Shore team were killed in a traffic collision on their way back to the hotel.
Amherst also played the Schooners during the Christmas holidays.
Coming off a tough series loss to Northumberland, MacKenzie said his players can’t forget their commitment to defence, but need to get more pucks at the net.
“I thought we had lots of chances to score in both games, but we were a little snake-bitten,” he said. “We need to get more pucks to the net and get a bit more luck around the net.”
The club has benefitted from solid goaltending with Evan MacKenzie earning a shutout in the opening game of the Northumberland series and losing in double overtime, while Connor Hoeg was spectacular in the 2-1 loss in Game 2 in Trenton.
Defensively, MacKenzie said the blueline corps has been solid by keeping most shots to the outside, while the forwards have also made a strong commitment to defensive zone coverage.
“We’re playing good hockey right now and we’re getting scoring chances,” MacKenzie said. “We know the goals are going to come.”