Ramblers begin home-and-home with Slammers tonight
AMHERST - Scott Bragg missed the first two opportunities he had to face his former team, the Woodstock Slammers, while recovering from a broken jaw.
Bragg, who has become the Ramblers hottest scorer with seven points in his last seven games, will get his first chance against his former mates today when Amherst pays Woodstock a visit in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action at 7:30 p.m.
"I have a lot of friends there, and the billet family I had there last year is coming to the game," said Bragg, an 18-year-old St. John's, N.L., native. "It should be a fun game and I'm really excited to play in it."
Bragg had his jaw broken Sept. 25 by Yarmouth Mariners defenceman Dakota Johnson as payback for Bragg's spear of another Yarmouth player. Bragg had to have a plate and four screws inserted on either side of his jaw as a result, and will likely play with a full cage the rest of his hockey career.
The five-foot-nine agitator had no problem doing the dirty work in Woodstock last season, racking up 154 penalty minutes in 43 games. But Bragg is anxious to show he can be a threat offensively. He has nine points in 15 games as a Rambler, one shy of his total from a year ago.
"We had a pretty good lineup last year, and I didn't really get a chance to show I could be a skill player," said Bragg. "But the coaching staff here has given me an opportunity to just lace 'em up and play hockey.
"I can still play the bump-and-grind style, but I can also put the puck in the net, too."
The Ramblers will need all they help they can get against the powerhouse Slammers, who have run roughshod on the rest of the MJAHL. Woodstock has won 16 straight games and earned 41 of a possible 42 points this season. Pictou County has been the only team to take a point from the Slammers so far, with a 2-1 shootout win Oct. 3.
Woodstock beat Amherst 5-0 on Oct. 4 at the showcase weekend in Summerside, and 5-2 in Woodstock on Oct. 16.
"We have to stay out of the box, because they will hurt you on the power play," said Ramblers head coach and general manager Corey Crocker. "We have to be able to skate with them and slow their offence down, and capitalize on our chances."
Woodstock visits the Stadium for the back end of the home-and-home on Saturday at 7 p.m.
NOTEBOOK - The Ramblers have 21 players signed to cards as of last night's Hockey Canada deadline to pare down their roster to 25 players. A final roster has to be in place by Jan. 10 ... Forward Jonathan Pardy is expected to be back after Christmas. The Clarenville, N.L., native met with Crocker at the Monctonian tournament, where Pardy was helping coach a midget team at the event. Pardy has been rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery after getting injured in last year's playoffs ... Forward Trevor Layton (high ankle sprain) practised last night and will be a game-time decision ... Pictou County completed a blockbuster trade with Yarmouth late Monday, acquiring goalie Justin Coller in exchange for goalie Alex Newman, the rights to forwards Jorey Uhlman and Justin Chaisson, and future considerations.