Slow start, controversial call hamper Ramblers
© Dave Mathieson – Amherst Daily News
Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers’ defenceman Patrick Harrison fires the puck at the net in Maritime Junior Hockey League Eastlink Division semifinal action on Saturday against the Yarmouth Mariners. Yarmouth won the game 4-2 to tie the series at two games apiece.
AMHERST – It’s a whole new series.
Brandon Bussey scored a controversial goal late in the third period to lift the Yarmouth Mainers to a 4-2 win over the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers to tie their best-of-seven Eastlink Division semifinal series at two games apiece.
The series shifts back to Yarmouth for Game 3 on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
“We had a terrible start and were down two nothing before we came back and played hard for two period,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said following the game. “Tough call in the end, though. It’s just frustrating. That’s the way it’s been since Christmas.”
With the Mariners on the power play, forward Ben MacSwain appeared to collide with Ramblers’ goalie Richard Tingley knocking the goalie to the ice. Before Tingley could reset himself Bussey managed to score to give Yarmouth a 4-3 lead just over a minute after Cam McDonald scored to tie the game for the Ramblers.
Rodney Mahoney added an assist on the goal that came with 3:57 to play.
MacSwain scored into an empty net with 13 seconds to play when he blocked Ben MacDonald’s attempt to shoot the puck into Yarmouth territory and fired the puck from just inside his own blueline into the empty Ramblers’ net.
Jon Johannesson opened the scoring for the Mariners just 2:19 into the game when he intercepted a Ramblers’ clearing attempt and blasted a shot by Tingley , while Zack Henry gave Yarmouth a two-goal lead on the power play at the 9:17 mark from Colin Campbell and Kyle Campbell.
The Ramblers scored their first goal in more than 70 minutes of action against Chase Gaudet just over 11 minutes into the second period when Willie MacDonald’s shot from the point went off the Mariner goalie’s glove and trickled across the line to put Amherst on the board.
Momentum shifted in Amherst’s favour and McDonald took a pass from Kody Orr and beat Gaudet just inside the post to tie the game.
It was moments after McDonald’s goal that Patrick Harrison was given a hooking penalty behind the play, setting the stage for Bussey’s goal.
There was some confusion later in the period after Henry was assessment a minor for slashing in the final two minutes. A clock malfunction saw the time remaining in the period replaced with the penalty time and referee Mark Hulshof was forced to go back and forth between the benches and the timekeeper before sorting out how much time was left in the period.
Amherst outshot the Mariners 37-23.
The biggest crowd of the season was on hand for the game with 1,680 in attendance.
Game 6 in the series is back in Amherst on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Bottomley said his team needs to have a better start. It’s something he has been talking about throughout the series and needs to be corrected.
“We talk about it a lot as a team. We need to have a better start, getting the puck in their end and taking the game to them,” he said. “We cannot continue to have bad starts if we want to win this series. I don’t know if they’re hesitant or nervous but we have to overcome it.
Bottomley said he is also concerned with the offensive drought, adding several players have yet to get a point in the series.
“We need to score more goals. We have some guys who aren’t contributing offensively and for us to win those guys have got to start putting the puck in the net,” he said. “We need to have guys down in the blue paint and we have to get hungrier around their net.”
Despite the tough loss, Bottomley said he is encouraging his players to learn from the game and put it behind them as they head to Yarmouth for Game 5.
Elsewhere Saturday, the Truro Bearcats stormed back from a 3-1 second period to defeat the Weeks Crushers 5-3 in New Glasgow on Saturday to even that Eastlink semifinal at two games apiece with Game 5 on Tuesday in Truro.
The Summerside Western Capitals defeated the Miramichi Timberwolves 5-3 on Saturday to sweep their best-of-seven Meek Division series in four games.