AMHERST - The Maritime Hockey League Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers say they are on the right track as they enter the 2013 MHL playoffs against the Mariners Saturday in Yarmouth.
"We're focusing on defence and keeping goals-against down," said Jim Bottomley, Ramblers coach and general manager. "We allowed too many goals the last couple games.
"We worked hard all season to keep goals-against at three or under and that's our focus right now, he added. "We're working hard defensively and getting ready to take advantage of our specialty teams."
Ramblers goaltender Richard Tingley agrees.
"Yarmouth is a good team," said Tingley. "They have two solid lines with offensive power but if we play a defensive game then the goals will come."
Former New York Islander defenceman Paul Boutilier and Ramblers defensive coach Tim Ripley were working on key defensive principals with the Ramblers last night.
"Jim and Paul have been working really hard on defence and me and Jamie Matthews have been focusing on offense," said Bottomley.
Bottomley says the team has come a long way over the course of the season.
"Where we came from last year to this year I think we had a good season, and it's only a matter of time before it's a great season," he said.
This is the second playoff run Bottomley has had with the Ramblers.
"The guys have a year under their belt with me and know what I'm about," said Bottomley. "The biggest thing is that they're not taking a night off and they want to win.
"We have as much talent as last year but this year they've been working hard and are believing in each other," he added. "Right now we're at the point where we're going to support each other and come out with some wins."
Tingley said, 'I'm very confident in our team.'
"The boys have come a long way," said the 19-year-old. "They've improved a lot since the start of the year and I think we have a really good shot going into the playoffs."
Tingley says he doesn't go through any special routines during the playoffs.
"I try to play my own game and can't let the crowd get to me," he said. "Yarmouth has the puck bangers."
What are the puck bangers?
"They all stand behind the glass behind the net and bang pucks against the glass," he added. "It's pretty bad but I just have to keep my mind on the game and play my game."
The addition of CIBC Wood Gundy as a sponsor has also helped.
"Steve Maltby joining us with CIBC Wood Gundy has been a tremendous lift," said Bottomley. "It helps financially but, also, being associated with a name like CIBC improves your image both on and off the ice."
Tingley says the sponsor has provided equipment and stability.
"Jim wants to win every night and the extra money gives him leeway to get players," he said. "It's been a big help for us."
Ramblers Note: Bottomley says the Ramblers are going into the playoff with a healthy roster but two players are serving suspensions. Jeff MacPherson will miss the first game of the playoffs and Robert Davis will miss the first two games due to suspensions.