© Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now
Ramblers coach Jim Bottomley covers some hockey fundaments with his players during practice at Amherst Stadium.
AMHERST - The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers play two Maritime Hockey League games this weekend, both against the two teams that lead them in the Eastlink Division.
"It's a huge weekend," said Jim Bottomley Ramblers coach and general manager. "With those two teams ahead of us this is the time to make some moves in the standings, and a win will keep us in the hunt for first and second."
Saturday they're at home against the Pictou County Weeks Crushers, and then on Sunday they travel to Truro to face off against the Bearcats.
The games are two of 12 games left on the Ramblers regular season schedule. They currently sit in third place in the Eastlink Division, trailing the Weeks Crushers and the Bearcats.
"We had close games against Pictou the last two times we played them, so we need to capitalize on our chances," said Bottomley. "They're a highly skilled hockey team and we have to play physical right from the start in our building.
"We're a physical team and we have to be physical right from the drop of the puck."
The last two games between Amherst and Pictou went to a shootout. The Ramblers won the Jan. 16 shootout game 5-4, and lost their Dec. 5 shootout game 4-3.
"If we have any chance of getting first or second in the standings we have to beat Pictou at home," said Bottomley.
The last time the Ramblers beat Truro was Nov. 11, when they beat them 7-2. They've lost their last three games to the Bearcats. On Jan. 26, they lost 5-4, on Jan. 19, they lost 4-2, and then on Dec. 7, they lost 7-1.
"We can't fall behind Truro early. When they get a lead they're tough to come back on," said Bottomley. "They had a 3-1 lead in the last game but we battled back and lost 5-4.
He says they have to shut the Bearcats down early in the game.
"As the game goes on we seem to get stronger against Truro, and hopefully we can carry that momentum and create opportunities as the game goes on."
Richard Tingley will start in goal Saturday night against the Weeks Crushers.
"We'll see how things go from there," said Bottomley.
Brock Morrison currently leads the Ramblers with 48 points; 19 goals and 29 assists, Brett Shute is second with 45 points; 22 goals and 23 assists, and Ryan Caswell is third with 33 points; 13 goals and 20 assists.
Saturday's game at Amherst Stadium starts at 7 p.m., and Sunday's game at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro starts at 2 p.m.