Capitals in town tonight, Crushers tomorrow
AMHERST - The Ramblers have had all week to their about their two losses at the Maritime Junior A Hockey League showcase weekend in Summerside.
So, what better way for a young team to respond to its first taste of adversity than by beating the showcase weekend hosts and the reigning Eastern Canadian champion Capitals, who invade the Stadium today at 7:30 p.m.
"Everybody has an off weekend," said Ramblers forward Kody Orr. "We've had a good week in practice of getting back to basics, and our guys want to show that we're better than we were last weekend.
"We expect to be where we're at right now, top-two in our division and top-four in the league, and this weekend is a good chance to prove that we deserve to be where we are."
To do that, the Ramblers will need to bring to life an offence that was shut down at the showcase weekend. Defenceman Eric Boudreau's power play goal was all Amherst could muster in setbacks of 3-1 to Yarmouth and 5-0 to Woodstock. The Ramblers have not scored in their last 78:53.
The Capitals boast the most potent offensive attack in the MJAHL, averaging more than six goals per game. Twenty of their 62 goals have come on the power play. Summerside had the top five scorers in the league heading into action Thursday.
"Our offence did go in the tank a bit, but our defence wasn't that good either," said Ramblers head coach and general manager Corey Crocker. "If we're better on the defensive end, the opportunities will come on the offensive side."
The Pictou County Weeks Crushers will provide the opposition Saturday at 7 p.m., at the Stadium.
Pictou turned some heads at the showcase weekend with wins over Woodstock and Summerside. The Crushers lost 4-3 in Amherst on Sept. 19 despite outshooting the Ramblers 31-15 over the final two periods.
"We have to be better on our positional play away from the puck," said Crocker. "It'll be the same old story for the rest of the year.
"With junior A players, you have to treat everything in repeat fashion, doing it over and over until you get it right. Last weekend was the wake-up call for our guys that we have to keep doing that."
NOTES - MJAHL president Derryl Smith confirmed yesterday he had received written notice of appeal and the required $500 from the Yarmouth Mariners, who are contesting the 20-game suspension handed Monday to defenceman Dakota Johnson for his blindside punch to Ramblers forward Scott Bragg that broke Bragg's jaw during a Sept. 24 game in Yarmouth. Smith said he would turn the matter over to league vice president Rod Clark of Fredericton, but wasn't sure if an appeal committee would be formed since the Mariners only gave verbal notice within the 24-hour window to appeal. The written notice and $500 are required within 24 hours according to league rules ... The Ramblers are calling up affiliated player Michael Clarke for the weekend. Clarke, a forward, is tearing up the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League with the Cole Harbour McCain, with a league-high 12 goals and 19 points in seven games.