Hornbrook ready to battle former teammates

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Ramblers' forward played key offensive role with Crushers last season

Bruce Hornbrook wants nothing more than to beat the team that traded him after last season.

Bruce Hornbrook will play a key role for the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers against his former team, the Weeks Crushers. Game 1 of the series is Thursday in New Glasgow. Game 2 is Saturday in Amherst at 7 p.m.

AMHERST – Bruce Hornbrook wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more than a little chirping going on when the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers open their best-of-seven Eastlink Division series with the Weeks Crushers on Thursday.

Hornbrook, a 20-year-old native of Bathurst, N.B., was a member of the Crushers last season, scoring 14 goals and adding 26 points in 52 games.

He was traded in the offseason to the Summerside Western Capitals and arrived in Amherst earlier this season in a deal that sent Blake Millman home to the Caps.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun series, and I’ll have a little more drive wanting to beat them,” said Hornbrook, who was a key addition to the Ramblers’ offence when he joined the club just before Christmas.

Hornbrook said he has a number of friends on the Crushers, including former Rambler J.P. Harvey – who the Crushers acquired from Summerside at the trading deadline. While he kept in touch with his buddies during the season, everything has gone quiet of late as the teams prepare for what they hope to be a long playoff run.

“Everyone’s expecting a long series,” said Hornbrook, who has played on a line with newcomers Daniel Walsh and Francis Alarie. “It’s a series in which we have to use our size. We’ll have to forecheck their D really hard and shut down their top guys.”

A grad of the Rothesay-Netherwood program where former Ramblers’ coach Jeff Lewis is the director of hockey operations, Hornbrook played briefly with the hometown Acadie-Bathurst Titan before playing with Miramichi – picking up 36 points in 50 games during his rookie season in 2011-12.

He said his season had a definite turning point when he was acquired from Summerside. Since the trade, the 5’10”, 170-pound forward scored 11 goals and added 23 assists for 34 points in 29 games. He had 16 points in 20 games for Summerside.

“My season definitely picked up when I came here,” he said. “Summerside is a great organization and they treated me great, but they’re building for the future while Amherst is going for it this year. It’s great to be in the middle of what I hope will be a long run.”

Hornbrook is also hoping a long playoff run will translate into an extended audition for one or more Atlantic university teams.

While not known to take a lot of penalties, his gritty style and leadership has reminded some fans of Jeff MacPherson, whose lose in the semifinals last season was key in the club’s defeat.

“He brings a lot of offence to the table, but it’s his willingness to work in the dirty areas that makes him so effective,” coach Jim Bottomley said. “He doesn’t have a letter, but he still shows a lot of leadership out there.”

Bottomley wanted to acquire Hornbrook last season and made several attempts to pick him up from the Crushers in a trade both during and after the season. While giving up Millman was tough to do, Bottomley said the prospect of picking up Hornbrook was too good to pass up.

“He’s done everything expected of him since he arrived,” Bottomley said. “He’s played a checking role and he’s supplied a lot of offence. He’s also become a very effective penalty killer and he also seems to find a way to pick his game up a notch when we play the Crushers. He’s one of those guys we’ll be counting on heading into the playoffs.”

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, Summerside Western Capitals, Rothesay-Netherwood Atlantic university

Geographic location: AMHERST, Summerside, Bathurst

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