Ramblers finally healthy heading into playoffs

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Regular season wraps up Saturday at home

The Amherst Ramblers play at home Saturday before staring the Eastlink Division semifinal series in New Glasgow against the Weeks Crushers next week.

The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers conclude their 2013-14 regular season at home on Saturday against the Miramichi Timberwolves. Game 1 of the playoffs is Thursday, March 13, in New Glasgow against the Weeks Crushers.

AMHERST – A full season of preparation will be put to the test beginning next week when the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers enter their best-of-seven Eastlink Division series against the Weeks Crushers.

Game 1 of the series is Thursday, March 13 in New Glasgow, while Game 2 come back to Amherst on Saturday, March 15.

“We’re getting healthy finally. It will probably the first time since Christmas that we’ve played with a full, healthy lineup,” Ramblers’ coach Jim Bottomley said.

The Ramblers will conclude their regular season on Saturday when they host the Miramichi Timberwolves at the Amherst Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.

The team played in New Glasgow last night in a playoff preview, although both teams were without several key members as coaches rested several players in preparation for what could be a grueling seven-game series.

Bottomley expects Danny Walsh and Serge Boisvert back for the playoffs while Willie MacDonald has also returned to the lineup after a lengthy injury.

Amherst was in a similar position last year, entering the playoffs in third place before knocking off the Yarmouth Mariners in six games. A couple of key injuries to Jeff MacPherson and Jacob Conrad hurt the Ramblers in the second round – a six-game loss to the eventual Fred Page Cup champion Truro Bearcats.

He’s hoping the intensity shown last year and at times this season will return for the playoffs and he expects the series to be a close one between two evenly matched teams.

“We got good goaltending, solid defence, a couple of good scoring lines and some lines that can play the physical game,” Bottomley said. “We have size, guys that don’t mind getting in there. I’m hoping if was get that all together we can go on a nice, long playoff run.”

Bottomley said the Crushers are a team that was built to win this year and anything less than a championship would be a disappointment. But, he said, the Crushers shouldn’t underestimate the grit and work ethic of the Ramblers.

He said his club will play a physical style against the Crushers and not give them much space to free wheel. He also hopes to keep them off their offensive game.

The Ramblers have been working on specialty teams in practices leading up to playoffs. He said the penalty kill has been among the league’s best all season, while the power play has steadily improved since Christmas.

In other team news, the Ramblers are hosting their team awards banquet on Wednesday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Robie Street.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, Game 2, Knights of Columbus Hall

Geographic location: Amherst Stadium, New Glasgow, Robie Street

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