Bottomley calls regular season a success despite injuries
The Amherst Ramblers finished the MHL regular season in third place in the Bent Division. The club opens its division semifinal on Thursday in New Glasgow.
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Bruce Hornbrook of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers carries the puck away from a Miramichi Timberwolves’ attacker in MHL action on Saturday. The Ramblers open their best-of-seven Eastlink Division semifinal on Thursday in New Glasgow against the Weeks Crushers. Game 2 is in Amherst on Saturday.
AMHERST – While he would’ve preferred to finish higher in the standings, Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach Jim Bottomley is quite happy with his club’s third-place finish.
“We had a good season,” Bottomley said. “When I came on board three years ago I said we didn’t want to have anymore rebuilding seasons. We want to reload every year. For us to be able to compete with the high-end teams that spend a lot of money every year, it shows how far we have come.”
The Ramblers will get their opportunity to go up against one of those teams on Thursday when they travel to New Glasgow to face the Weeks Crushers in the opening game of their best-of-seven Eastlink Division series.
The Truro Bearcats will face the winner of the mini-series between the Yarmouth Mariners and the Kentville Wildcats in the other divisional semifinal series.
Bottomley is hoping his club has a long playoff run this season. He wants to build on the playoff success the club had two years ago, when it lost in Game 7 in the divisional final to Yarmouth, and last year, when it lost a tough Game 6 in the same series against Truro.
“If everything comes together and we play like we can I’m looking forward to a long playoff run,” Bottomley said.
After a slow start, in which the club lost its first four games, the Ramblers recovered to battle for the division lead through most of the regular season. A tough run, exacerbated by several key injuries, saw the club fall out of the race for first in the division, while the Crushers also managed to put some distance between themselves and the Ramblers.
Bottomley said home ice advantage would have been nice to get, but he’s prepared to win on the road.
“We’re ready to go. We’ve had some key guys out of the lineup and they’re ready to get going again,” Bottomley said. “We have some work to do, but if we play up to our full potential we’ll do well.”
As he prepares for the opener, Bottomley said he will continue to work on special teams and focus on getting more pucks to the net as well as increased traffic
In their regular season finale, the Ramblers – still sitting out several regulars – lost 3-1 to the Meek Division regular season champion Miramichi Timberwolves.
The Miramichi Timberwolves scored two second period goals and added a third en route to a 3-1 win over the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers in the final night of the Maritime Junior Hockey League regular season on Saturday.
Rankyn Campbell and Brett Malone, shorthanded, scored second period goals for Miramichi, while Justin O’Reilly added a third period goal.
Robert Davis scored on the power play for Amherst.
The Ramblers got a bit of a scare late in the second period when Tingley appeared to be favouring his knee after making a save on a slap shot from the point.
“He got a shot on the knee, just inside the pad, so we decided to leave him in the dressing room with some ice on it in the third,” Bottomley said. “He’ll be ready to go for the opener.