Look like contenders in win over Capitals, pretenders in loss to Pictou County
AMHERST - Ramblers fans got a real good look at what their Maritime Junior A Hockey League team is capable of - good and bad.
The bordertowners played excellent team defence and skated with the reigning MJAHL champion Summerside Western Capitals for a full 60 minutes in a well-deserved 2-1 victory Friday night.
Just 24 hours later, the Stadium faithful witnessed a textbook example of the alarming lack of consistency that plagues teams who fail to reach their championship potential as Amherst fell behind 5-0 in the first period-and-a-half in a 6-3 loss to a middle-of-the-pack Pictou County Weeks Crushers squad.
"You can't just say, 'Oh, well. That's just another game,'" said Ramblers defenceman Eric Boudreau after Saturday's loss. "You have to analyze it and say, 'Look, we have to fix this.'"
Ramblers head coach and general manager Corey Crocker sounds like he intends to do just that.
"I'm not happy one bit," Crocker said Saturday. "I'm very, very disappointed in the whole team. We put in a good effort (Friday) night and nothing changed. We prepare the same way every game, and to put in an effort like that is just unacceptable.
"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."
The Ramblers displayed excellent team discipline in the win over Summerside. Justin Matthews made the early statement his club had shaken off the disappointment of back-to-back losses at the showcase weekend with a power-play goal 53 seconds after the opening faceoff. Kody Orr's tip-in of a Drew McLaughlin point shot on another power play made it 2-0 late in the second.
The Capitals scored on a redirected shot midway through the third, but shot themselves in the foot with two silly retaliatory penalties in the final 3:04 as they pressed for the equalizer. Jon Waye made 33 saves in goal.
That discipline disappeared the next night, with the Ramblers defence frustrated by a Crushers squad that made the most of clogging the neutral zone and capitalizing on turnovers. Amherst was outshot 13-5 in the first period, and three goals in the first 9:03 of the second chased Waye in favour of rookie Devon Cudmore.
The Ramblers did show some life in the third period, getting as close as 5-2 after being energized by Matthews, at five-foot-seven, holding his own in a fight against six-foot-two Sean Hoyt of Pictou, but Simon Bissonnette took a major penalty for fighing and a minor for being the aggressor for jumping Crushers midget callup Josh Desmond, who was wearing a full cage, and sucked the life out of any comeback attempt.
Orr, Jeremy Barron and Derek Smith were the goalscorers. Waye and Cudmore combined to make 26 saves.
The Ramblers, 1-3 in October after a 5-0-0-1 September, will have their depth tested when they travel to Woodstock this Friday to play the Slammers, another team expected to contend for a MJAHL championship.
Josh Coleman didn't dress Saturday after being involved in the second fight during the same stoppage in play Friday night, which carries an automatic two-game suspension. Zach Carson played Saturday despite getting an instigator penalty Friday in the final 10 minutes of regulation, which means an automatic one-game ban, and will serve it this Friday. Bissonnette also will sit a game for his actions Saturday.
The Ramblers are home to the Yarmouth Mariners this Saturday at 7 p.m.
OVERTIME - The MJAHL?is expected to hold a conference call today to hear the Mariners' appeal of defenceman Dakota Johnson's 20-game suspension for punching Ramblers forward Scott Bragg in retaliation for Bragg's spear of another Yarmouth player during a Sept. 24 game, breaking Bragg's jaw. Bragg had to have a plate and four screws inserted into either side of his jaw, and is targeting mid-November for his return to action. Bragg was on the ice after the game Friday doing some light training, wearing a full shield ... Defenceman Yohann Mathieu did not play on the weekend with a nagging shoulder problem.