Three wins in 48 hours, 11 out of 12 points for the month
AMHERST - The Ramblers are sitting atop the Maritime Junior A Hockey League through the first month of the season.
Not bad for a team whose average age is 17.96 years old.
Amherst won three games in a 48-hour span to push its record to 5-0-0-1 and end September in first place overall in the 11-team circuit. The Ramblers returned home early Saturday morning after victories of 6-3 and 4-1 in Yarmouth, and with precious little left in the tank, managed to double up the Bridgewater Lumberjacks 4-2 at the Stadium on Saturday night in front of 673 fans.
"Hopefully we can just keep it rolling," said forward Justin Matthews, arguably the team's most consistent player, with points in five of those six games.
"It's nothing but hard work. Coaches are putting us through our paces in practice. It's about systems, learning the basics and playing within the game plan."
The game plan Saturday was to keep it basic against a bigger but slower Bridgewater side that was fresh, having last played Thursday in Pictou County. The Ramblers used their superior speed and offensive skill to their advantage, converting two power-play chances to help open up a 4-1 lead through two periods.
Jon Waye continues to settle into his role as the No. 1 goalie, holding the fort as the Ramblers were outshot 11-4 in the final frame and 28-25 overall.
Matthews had a goal and an assist, and was a deserving first star. Simon Bissonnette, Kody Orr and Eric Boudreau also scored, and Boudreau added a pair of helpers.
On Friday, rookie netminder Devon Cudmore made his junior A debut a memorable one, stopping 36 shots in the 4-1 triumph over the host Mariners. Adam Chipman, with two, Kodi Estey and Matthews did the scoring.
Two of the biggest questions going into this season were offensive punch and if a younger Ramblers squad would be bullied by more experienced teams.
Through six games, the Ramblers are second in the league in goals scored (28) and in power-play efficiency (31.3 per cent). The bordertown bunch has also shown a penchant for the penalty box, with their 224 minutes second only to Summerside's 309. Amherst's penalty killing ranks sixth, at 78.4 per cent.
"September's been good to us," said Ramblers head coach and general manager Corey Crocker. "But this is still a work in progress.
"We're getting a lot of good minutes out of a lot of players, and our younger players are playing lots. We've got a balanced attack, and when you put forward a work ethic like we had (Saturday) night, good things will happen."
Forward Scott Bragg was expected to return to his billet family in Amherst last night after surgery to repair a broken jaw suffered Thursday in Yarmouth. Crocker said Bragg's jaw didn't need to be wired shut, and that he could be back on the ice in three to four weeks.
Mariners defenceman Dakota Johnson has been suspended indefinitely pending a league review as a result of the incident.
The Ramblers' October schedule includes six games against Meek Division opposition, with two matchups against 4-0 Woodstock and one with 5-1 Summerside.