Ramblers looking to snap scoring slump

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST - The net seems a little smaller, the bounces are going in the wrong direction and the stars are just not aligned in Ramblerland right now.
In six Maritime Junior A Hockey League games this month, the bordertowners have just eight goals and have won only once. Contrast this to last month, where the Ramblers lit the lamp 29 times and won five of six.
"It's a bit of a hard stretch that we're going through, but everyone still has to do their job," said Amherst forward Jeremy Barron, who has 16 points in a dozen contests, tops on the club. "If we do that, I think we can be successful against any team."
Perhaps a change of scenery will do Corey Crocker's troops some good, as the Ramblers (6-5-0-1) make their way to northern New Brunswick for the first time this season, facing the Campbellton Tigers on Friday and the Miramichi Timberwolves the next night.
Campbellton is at the bottom of the Meek Division with just one win in 12 games, while Miramichi has stayed with heavyweights Woodstock and Summerside in the Meek with an 8-4 record.
"Campbellton is a good young team in a rebuilding phase right now, which is scary because they're a team with nothing to lose," said Crocker. "And they play on a big ice surface, which is something we're not all that used. Miramichi has a team that can scrap and won't quit, which is why they've been pretty successful so far."
Some teams like to change things up when they're in a slump. Not Barron.
"I'm not a big believer in that," he said. "You make your own luck."
That wasn't the case in the Ramblers last game, as they threw 51 shots at Yarmouth Mariners goaltender Justin Collier but couldn't push the puck by him in a 1-0 defeat last Saturday, the second time Amherst has been shut out this month.
"We could've scored three or four goals that game, but their guy stood tall," said Ramblers forward Justin Matthews, who has a dozen points in as many games. "We played well that game. We just have to keep shooting and driving to the net hard."
Count him among the non-superstitious types who don't feel the need to change their routine.
"Some guys do, but I just do what I usually do before a game," Matthews said.
"My routine is pretty much the same - a nap in the afternoon, eat a good pre-game meal, get to the rink early and listen to some music on my iPod and talk to the guys, just try to stay relaxed."
The Ramblers are battling a flu bug, but Crocker said he isn't expecting to lose anyone for the weekend. The injury report is favourable, with forward Scott Bragg cleared to play by his doctor Wednesday.
Bragg will wear a full cage, a reminder of the punch he absorbed from Yarmouth Mariners defenceman Dakota Johnson on Sept. 24 in retaliation for his spear of another Yarmouth player, breaking Bragg's jaw.
Bragg served a two-game suspension for the spear, and wound up missing another eight while recovering, though he dressed and sat on the bench in the loss to Yarmouth on Saturday. Johnson has served nine of the 20 games he got for the punch, and will be eligible to return Dec. 4.
"He'll have some rust on his blades, but the only way to get that off is by playing," said Crocker. "He's an energy player who gives us some depth, and we're excited to have him back."
Defenceman Brandon Mercer (hip pointer) is also expected to return this weekend, leaving forward Jonathan Pardy (shoulder) as the lone Rambler on the injured list. Crocker said Pardy is working out with a personal trainer in Newfoundland, and is two to three weeks away from returning.

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Campbellton Tigers

Geographic location: Ramblerland, New Brunswick, Summerside Yarmouth Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Vince
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Great to see the team preparing for this weekends trip to Campleton and the Miramachi. They should do well and get back on the winning track. Their positive work ethic is very impressive...

  • jason
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    heavens, is the finley era really over.. its so nice to have a winner now