Blues hosting Antigonish Bulldogs Friday

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Blues organization working hard to get more players

Blues starting goaltender Jesse Cox peeks around a Blues defender to watch the play develop during last Friday's game against the Eastern Shore Mariners. Cox faced 67 shots in the game but the Blues won 9-7. Cox has faced 314 shots in the Blues eight regular season games so far this season, allowing 25 goals.

SPRINGHILL - Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League action returns to the Richard Calder Arena Friday night with the Cumberland County Blues hosting the Antigonish Bulldogs.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m., and it's the first meeting this year between the Sid Rowe Division rivals.

"Our division is still up for grabs but we need to win some hockey games in the next month," said Terry McManaman, Blues general manager. "It's early in the season and a couple of wins would put us in third place."

"This is a team that won the Don Johnson Cup a few years ago and people here expect a winner," he added.

McManaman said the Blues are having a hard time recruiting players to the team.

"We've approached a lot of players that were released from other teams but because of the location of Springhill, and no guarantee of work, it's hard to attract a player here for Junior B hockey."

The team was hoping they'd receive some players from the Maritime Hockey League's Amherst Ramblers but, so far, no luck.

"We always look for a couple players from them but they're in no position to send us a couple players, so that effects us," said McManaman. "Our goal is to have someone like Serge Boisvert. He came down and played for us last year but this year he's a full-time Rambler."

McManaman hopes the Ramblers send somebody soon.

"December is too late for us, we need help. We're still searching. We need three forwards."

McManaman said the Blues organization is manning the computers and the phone every day looking for more players.

"We need four or five players," he said. "We're still trying to bolster our lineup. Every day we're trying to get stronger."

The Ramblers are looking to recruit a player from Russia.

He attends Mount Allison University and has practiced with the Blues.

"He's an international hockey player and Hockey Canada is looking at our request to have him in our lineup," said Blues head coach Rob McLure. "I'd say we have better than a 50-50 chance of getting him in our lineup,"

The Blues should find out within a week or two if he can play for the Blues, but McLure knows one player is not enough.

"If I had a line that gave us a couple more goals a game and would play the game in the other end a little more and reduce the shots in our end, that would be great."

Second year Blues forward Paul Gulliver agrees.

"We need more players to add some scoring, for sure," said Gulliver. "We have a lot of rookies this year and we're adapting and coming along. If we shore up a couple of mistakes we should be good."

One mistake the Blues have made is allowing too many shots on goal.

"We have the best goaltender in the league but we can't allow 50 or 60 shots a game. We should have it at a maximum of 35 or 40 shots."

The Blues won last Friday's game in Springhill 9-7 over the Eastern Shore Mariners. Blues starting goaltender, Jesse Cox, faced 67 shots on the night.

On Sunday in St. Margaret's Bay, Blues backup, Julien Savoie, faced 53 shots in a 5-4 loss.

Cox has faced 314 shots in the Blues eight regular season games so far this season, allowing 25 goals.

Savoie has played a game and a half. He has faced 83 shots, letting in 11 goals.

"We have a lot of good players that are ready to step up," said Gulliver. "We want to make the playoffs and have an impact in the league and get some fans back into the building."

The newest player to the team is defenceman John Welch. He played his first game with the Blues last Friday.

"I'm a stabilizer out there," said Welch. "I don't really push for too much offensive play but I'll move the puck and definitely shut down the rush."

Welch didn't play hockey last year and focused on his studies at Mount Allison, but decided to get back into the game this year.

"The players are great, the coaches are great and the executive is great as well," said Welch. "Everybody works hard in all three spheres. Everyone knows their role and does their job as best they can."

The puck for tonight's game drops at 7:30 p.m.

dave.mathieson@tc.tc

On Twitter: @adndave

    

Organizations: Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, Cumberland County Blues, Sid Rowe Division Don Johnson Maritime Hockey League Blues organization Mount Allison University Hockey Canada

Geographic location: Russia

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