Ramblers lose 6-3 to Crushers

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST -- The Ramblers (6-3-0-1) lost 6-3 to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers (6-5-0-0) in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action tonight at the Stadium.

Following is the blog transcript:

6:30 p.m. -- Teams out for the warmup. Ramblers are dressing 19 bodies. Josh Coleman is serving his first game of a two-game suspension for his fight Friday against Summerside, which was the second fight during the same stoppage in play and thus an automatic sanction. Yohann Mathieu is not dressed for the second straight night with a nagging shoulder problem. Callup Michael Clarke from the Cole Harbour McCain is in the lineup. Jonathan Pardy (shoulder) and Scott Bragg (jaw) are still out. The lone scratch for Pictou County is forward Chris Dart.

Referee tonight is Mark Hulshof.

Starting goalies are Jon Waye for Amherst and Randy Chisholm for Pictou County.

7:01 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. Same first line as last night for the Ramblers, the callup Clarke with Chipman and Barron.

7:03 p.m. -- Ramblers line combos are Clarke-Chipman-Barron, Orr-Matthews-Layton, Carson-Bissonnette-O'Byrne, and rookies O'Neill and Estey are the spare forwards . Defensive pairings are Smith-Boudreau, Matheson-McLaughlin and Herrett-Mercer.

7:05 p.m. -- Orr out with O'Neill and Estey on their first shift.

7:09 p.m. -- Bit of a sluggish start for the Ramblers coming off a spirited 2-1 win over the defending champions Friday. Amherst's first shot on goal comes 5:06 in.

7:10 p.m. -- Ramblers defence having a hard time making that first pass out of their own end, as the Crushers are playing solid positional hockey.

7:11 p.m. -- Not as much flow to this game, either. More whistles and dump-and-chases, which plays more into Pictou's strengths.

7:14 p.m. -- 10:21 left in the first. Shots 5-4 Pictou, with no real scoring chances for either side.

7:15 p.m. -- Ramblers' Zach Carson knocks the legs out from under Pictou's Robbie Little and sends him sprawling, drawing a crowd. Carson is very lucky that wasn't called, as it was almost a knee-on-knee hit, and a definite trip.

7:17 p.m. -- First PP goes to the Ramblers at 10:27, with Dan Joyce of Pictou off for hooking.

7:19 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers with no shots on goal in the man advantage.

7:20 p.m. -- Joyce steps out of the penalty box and joins the odd-man rush, outhustling an Amherst defender to the net to pick up a big rebound and deposit it top-shelf at 12:38. Assists to Ryan Fortune and Geoff Hum. 1-0 Crushers.

7:22 p.m. -- Michael Clarke has the puck hop over his stick on a feed from Adam Chipman in close.

7:25 p.m. -- Waye seems to be fighting the puck a bit, giving up a few too many rebounds.

7:27 p.m. -- 2:29 left in the first. Shots are 11-5 Pictou.

7:29 p.m. -- Crushers' Dan Joyce with a full-speed open ice hit, looked like an elbow, on Amherst's Eric Boudreau. Boudreau shook it off and made the play, to his credit. No penalty.

7:30 p.m. -- Pictou's first PP, with Simon Bissonnette off for hooking at 19:06.

7:31 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 13-5 Crushers.

After 20 minutes -- If the Ramblers played up to the level of a championship team Friday, they are playing down to the level of a middle-of-the-pack team tonight. No sustained offensive pressure and too many mistakes on breakouts from their own end of the ice. A more skilled team offensively would be up by more than a goal at this point.

7:46 p.m. -- Second period underway.

7:46 p.m. -- Weak wrist shot from Dan Joyce finds its way inside the far post past Waye, who might have been screened, and it's 2-0 38 seconds in. Assists to Geoff Hum and Scott McDonald. Kody Orr took a point shot off his ankle just before the goal and was limping badly. 2-0 Crushers.

7:49 p.m. -- Orr tests out the leg during a stoppage and seems OK, but will likely have a nice bruise to show for his effort.

7:51 p.m. -- Ramblers doing too much running around in their own end and the Crushers have increased their lead on a goal almost identical to the second one, a low wrister to the far side at 3:29. Danny Robichaud gets credit, from Scott McDonald and Josh Desmond. 3-0 Crushers.

7:51 p.m. -- Ramblers call a 30-second timeout, and head coach Corey Crocker is being very direct in his remarks to his troops.

7:55 p.m. -- Crushers down a man with Adam Slaunwhite off for hooking at 4:53. Ramblers need the next goal.

7:58 p.m . -- Pictou kills the penalty, but at least the Ramblers are showing a bit more jump now. Great shift from the PP unit of Orr, Clarke and Layton.

8:01 p.m. -- Poor decision by Ryan Matheson not to clear the puck in his own end results in a turnover and the puck is in the Amherst net again at 9:03. Dan Joyce has a hat trick, assist to Tyler Noseworthy. 4-0 Crushers.

8:02 p.m. -- Devon Cudmore in for Jon Waye in the Ramblers net.

8:03 p.m. -- Ramblers getting embarrassed now. Michael Hynes outworks an Amherst defender and roofs a second-chance backhand over Cudmore's blocker at 10:06. Assists to Sean Hoyt and Mitchell Maynard. 5-0 Crushers.

8:07 p.m. -- Good hustle from the callup Michael Clarke to generate some momentum offensively.

8:08 p.m. -- Ramblers frustration boiling over, as Shane O'Byrne ignites a scrum at the Crushers net with a vicious cross-check on a prone Pictou player. Crushers goalie Randy Chisholm gets two for roughing, Amherst's Simon Bissonnette gets a double minor for roughing, and O'Byrne, who did not get penalized, is serving the extra two. All this at 12:39.

8:12 p.m. -- Penalty over.

8:13 p.m. -- Ramblers getting another PP chance with Pictou's Ben Cameron sitting two for high-sticking at 15:42.

8:16 p.m. -- Ryan Matheson having a bad game. Can't keep the puck in on the PP and doesn't hustle to retrieve it, allowing Pictou's Geoff Hum to blow by him and go in on a partial breakaway. Devon Cudmore bailed him out.

8:18 p.m. -- Shane O'Byrne in the box for Amherst at 18:02 for hooking.

8:19 p.m. -- Good sequence from Derek Smith to negate the PP, intercepting a pass in the neutral zone and drawing a hooking call on Pictou's Trent McDonald at 18:36.

8:21 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 15-12 Amherst in the second (that's being generous to the Ramblers) and 25-20 Pictou overall.

After 40 minutes -- An atrocious first 10 minutes of the second period looks like it has cost the Ramblers this game. Waye not entirely to blame for it being 4-0 when he left, but pulling him after already having burned the timeout was the right decision, as the Ramblers were clearly not responding. The lack of scoring depth is now officially a problem, as the Ramblers have only three goals in 200 minutes of hockey this month.

8:35 p.m. -- Ramblers didn't come out of the dressing room until there was a minute left in the intermission. Suspect there was some candid discussion during the break.

8:37 p.m. -- Teams back to five-on-five hockey.

8:38 p.m. -- Mercer now elevated to the second defensive pairing with McLaughlin. Matheson playing with Herrett.

8:40 p.m. -- Some line-juggling, as Layton now with Bissonnette and Carson; Orr getting double-shifted as the third man with rookies O'Neill and Estey.

8:42 p.m. -- Ramblers were getting another PP chance with Hulshof's arm raised, but post-whistle histrionics ensue after Pictou's Adam Slaunwhite takes a run at Amherst's Drew McLaughlin and it's the Ramblers who are now shorthanded at 4:28. Sean Hoyt of Pictou gets two for holding, Amherst's Brandon Mercer and Adam Chipman two each for roughing.

8:46 p.m. -- Hulshof trying to make sure this game doesn't get greasy, as Pictou's Ben Cameron gets two for cross-checking at 6:00.

8:48 p.m. -- Ramblers now with a five-on-three for 73 seconds at 6:47, with Aaron Maas getting two for high-sticking.

8:50 p.m. -- This is a microcosm of how things have gone for the Ramblers. They waste almost all of the five-on-three passing the puck around the perimeter and only generate one shot on goal in those 73 seconds, which Chisholm didn't have to make a difficult save on. Down 5-0, the focus should be basic -- pucks on the net and go look for a rebound instead of trying for the highlight reel goal.

8:51 p.m. -- Second penalty is over. Two shots total on the PP.

8:53 p.m. -- Ramblers finally break the shutout as Kody Orr lights the lamp from Justin Matthews and Derek Smith at 10:23. 5-1 Crushers.

8:55 p.m. -- Justin Matthews, all five-foot-nine of him, earns a draw with the Crushers' Sean Hoyt, all six-foot-two of him, in a surprise bout following the goal.

8:56 p.m. -- Matthews putting his body on the line seems to have inspired the Ramblers, who have closed the gap to three at 10:34. Jeremy Barron with the goal from Adam Chipman and Derek Smith. 5-2 Crushers.

9 p.m. -- An absolute boneheaded play from Simon Bissonnette, jumping the Crushers' Josh Desmond, a midget callup wearing a full cage. Bissonnette gets five for fighting and two for the aggressor at 12:36, negating any momentum the Ramblers might have had. Crushers with a seven-minute PP.

9:03 p.m. -- Derek Smith nearly makes it 5-3 on an end-to-end rush, but his low shot just misses the far post.

9:06 p.m. -- 3:42 remaining. Shots 7-6 Amherst in the period.

9:07 p.m. -- Trainer looking at Brandon Mercer on the Ramblers bench. Mercer doubled over in pain.

9:07 p.m. -- Crushers convert on the PP, as Mitchell Maynard goes top shelf from Geoff Hum at 17:26. 6-2 Crushers. Penalty came during the fighting major, so Pictou still with the man advantage.

9:08 p.m. -- Adam Chipman and Danny Robichaud drop the gloves at centre ice at 17:34. Chipman with the decision.

9:11 p.m. -- In the final minute now.

9:11 p.m. -- Derek Smith pinches in for a shorthanded goal at 19:22. Assists to Jeremy Barron and Drew McLaughlin. Crushers are protesting, saying the puck didn't go in, but won't win that argument. 6-3 Crushers.

9:13 p.m. -- Amherst forward Shane O'Byrne and Crushers' goalie Randy Chisholm exchange punches to spark a melee. Crushers might speak to the league about that. They get two each for roughing, and Derek Smith and Robbie Little of Pictou get five each for fighting at 19:37.

9:16 p.m. -- Game over. Shots 8-7 Amherst in the third. 32-28 Pictou for the night.

Three stars -- 1. Dan Joyce, Pictou County; 2. Geoff Hum, Pictou County; 3. Derek Smith, Amherst.

Final thoughts -- Ramblers were energized after the Matthews fight and did win the third period, but should be very disappointed after an otherwise poor outing against a team they should match up well against. A total 180-degree turn from the effort Friday night against Summerside.

Post-game -- Quick quote from Corey Crocker outside a silent Ramblers dressing room. "We've got some guys on our team right now who just want to be passengers. Well, you know what? Things may change here in a week or two."

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Maritime Junior A Hockey League

Geographic location: Pictou County, Summerside

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