Slammers edge Ramblers 5-4

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST -- The Ramblers (15-22-1-1) lost 5-4 to the Woodstock Slammers (32-1-0-1) in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action Saturday night at the Stadium.

Following is the live blog transcript.

Pre-game notes -- Amherst is 4-2 this month, and 2-1 since trading captain Adam Chipman and alternate Derek Smith on Jan. 10 ... Woodstock rebounded from its first loss in regulation this season, 8-6 on Wednesday to the Miramichi Timberwolves, to defeat the Dieppe Commandos 6-3 on Friday. The Slammers are in the middle of a three-games-in-three-days swing, and head to Bridgewater to face the Lumberjacks on Sunday ... Amherst won 8-4 in Bridgewater on Friday, the Ramblers' second straight road win. The bordertowners begin a four-game homestand tonight.

6:30 p.m. -- Teams out for the warm-up. Ramblers have 19 bodies, with Simon Bissonnette missing his third game with a groin injury. Brandon Mercer also not out there. Mitch Flynn not dressed for the Slammers.

Starting goaltenders are Jon Waye for Amherst and Tyler Piercy for Woodstock.

Referee tonight is Corey Hayne.

7 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. The red-hot first line of Jeremy Barron-Justin Matthews-Brandon Street starts this one, with Wes Herrett moved up with Eric Boudreau as the first defensive unit.

7:01 p.m. -- Other line combos for Amherst are Peter Baldwin with Jon Pardy and Josh Coleman, Scott Bragg with Kody Orr and Mitchell O'Neill, and Kodi Estey with Shane O'Byrne and Trevor Layton. Ryan Matheson and Drew McLaughlin are the second defensive pairing, with Yohann Mathieu as the fifth man -- expect Boudreau to log major minutes tonight.

7:03 p.m. -- Early PP for Amherst, as Nicholas Tremere takes a swing at a dark jersey in a post-whistle scrum, and goes for roughing after the whistle at 2:09.

7:05 p.m. -- Scott Bragg, a former Slammer, doing what he does best as an agitator, goading Brad Tesink into a 10-minute misconduct at 4:02. Bragg was worked over pretty good by Tesink in the Woodstock zone, and they kept jawing after the play ended, but the referee let it go until Tesink facewashed Bragg well after the whistle.

7:05 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers with a couple of chances, and the Slammers don't have a shot on goal though five minutes.

7:08 p.m. -- Waye bails out Yohann Mathieu after a brutal giveaway in Amherst's end, sliding across to shut the door on Branden Kosolofsky.

7:09 p.m. -- Ramblers strike first with some good work from the Orr-Bragg-O'Neill unit, as Orr shovels in a rebound from the side of the net. O'Neill and Yohann Mathieu with the assists at 6:24. 1-0 Ramblers

7:11 p.m. -- Nick Huard's shot from a bad angle gets behind Waye and just misses the far post.

7:12 p.m. -- Amherst on the power play again. Ryan Tesink called for interference at 7:49.

7:13 p.m. -- Mitchell O'Neill down in the Woodstock zone clutching at his face, then gets up and goes after Nick Huard, who was labelled by Drew McLaughlin earlier in the shift. Woodstock's Jesse Hebscher and Amherst's Wes Herrett called for roughing after the whistle and misconducts at 8:47.

7:16 p.m. -- Amherst now with a two-man advantage, as Andrew Langan goes off for slashing at 9:24.

7:17 p.m. -- First minor over.

7:17 p.m. -- Ramblers have upped the lead. Drew McLaughlin didn't get all of his point shot, but it was enough to fool Piercy at 10:10. Assists to Jeremy Barron and Justin Matthews. Power-play goal. 2-0 Ramblers

7:19 p.m. -- More great work from the Orr-Bragg-O'Neill line, as Bragg sneaks in behind the Slammers defence on a pass up the board from Orr, but can't finish on the breakaway.

7:21 p.m. -- Ramblers getting all the bounces so far. Andrew Langan's tip-in goes off the crossbar and out with 6:20 to go. Shots 10-4 Amherst.

7:23 p.m. -- Woodstock going to the box again. Lucas McKinley called for the hook, but that's negated by Kody Orr taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play. Not smart. This at 14:56.

7:25 p.m. -- Waye getting all kinds of help from the hockey gods. He gives up a big rebound on an odd-man rush, and Brogan Bailey rings that off the post.

7:26 p.m. -- Woodstock with its first PP. Jonathan Pardy sent off for hooking at 16:31.

7:28 p.m. -- Slammers are on the board. Point shot goes off the end boards and right to Nick Huard, who deposits it home before Waye can react at 17:21. Assists to Tyler Gale and Robert Zendbeek. Power-play goal. 2-1 Ramblers

7:30 p.m. -- Zandbeek is alone at the side of the Rambler net, but can't redirect a pass into a wide-open cage.

7:31 p.m. -- Final minute of the period.

7:33 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 15-12 Woodstock.

After 20 minutes -- Home team couldn't have asked for a better first 12 minutes, but once it got back to five-on-five hockey, the Slammers seemed to just flip a switch and were all over Amherst, but weren't getting the breaks. Good hard-skating, hard-hitting hockey game.

7:48 p.m. -- Second period has begun.

7:49 p.m. -- Brandon Street undresses a Woodstock defender and gets a great backhand pass out to Jeremy Barron, but his one-timer is deflected wide. Street with some impressive moves on that rush.

7:54 p.m. -- Ramblers capitalize on a bad Woodstock line change. Drew McLaughlin with a nice stretch pass to Jeremy Barron, who tips it to a streaking Scott Bragg and his deke goes up and over Piercy at 5:13. 3-1 Ramblers

7:59 p.m. -- Slammers within one again on a mad scramble in front of the Amherst net. Goal to Tyler Gale at 7:31, from Michael Best. 3-2 Ramblers

8 p.m. -- Scott Bragg clocked in the face with an errant high stick from Branden Kosolofsky, and there's a puddle of blood on the ice. Bragg, who just took off the full cage a couple of weeks ago after having his jaw surgically repaired earlier this year, immediately goes to the dressing room. Kosolofsky gets five and a game at 7:41. Play halted while the blood is scraped off the ice.

8:04 p.m. -- Ramblers on the PP after the delay.

8:07 p.m. -- 2:48 left in the major.

8:07 p.m. -- Ramblers back up by two. Justin Matthews' wrister is deflected right to Jeremy Barron at the side of the net, and Piercy had no chance at 10:09. Second assist to Eric Boudreau. 4-2 Ramblers

8:09 p.m. -- Eric Boudreau and Ryan Tesink tangle in the corner in the Amherst end, and Tesink is down and not moving. Trainer rolls him on to his back and teammates come over and help him off the ice. No penalty called. This with 33 seconds left in the major.

8:13 p.m. -- Major penalty has expired.

8:13 p.m. -- Nick Huard with a face full of snow for Waye as he covers up. 7:02 to go.

8:16 p.m. -- Huard dumps the puck in and Waye covers up again, but Huard and another Slammer go hard to the net and there's a pile-up on top of Waye. Nothing comes of it.

8:19 p.m. -- 4:02 to go. Faceoff at the Amherst blueline.

8:21 p.m. -- This has been a chippy period. Slammers are doing plenty of talking after the whistle, but the Ramblers are maintaining their discipline.

8:23 p.m. -- Slammers within one again. Joshua Dadic walks out from the corner and gets a wrist shot airborne in a hurry, finding the top corner at 18:07. Assists to Ryan Tesink (not that hurt, apparently) and Tyler Gale. 4-3 Ramblers

8:25 p.m. -- Final minute.

8:28 p.m. -- Period over. More jawing as the teams go off, and Slammers coach Jason Tatarnic has an extended conversation with Hayne before going to the dressing room. Shots 12-12 in the second, 27-24 Woodstock through two.

After 40 minutes -- Slammers trying to wear down the Ramblers with grind-it-out, punishing hockey along the boards and in the corners. Amherst excelling at maintaining discipline and not giving Woodstock power-play opportunities. If the defence holds up, home team has a shot to win this one.

8:43 p.m. -- Third period underway. No sign of Bragg as the Ramblers come out.

8:45 p.m. -- Woodstock's Andrew Langan gets a stick on the arm from Yohann Mathieu. That's slashing at 57 seconds.

8:49 p.m. -- Penalty over. Slammers with just one shot on goal on the PP. Mathieu comes out of the box and forces a turnover, and it's a two-on-one with Josh Coleman. Mathieu can't convert the return pass, and doesn't exactly look graceful in doing so. An A for effort, but that's why he plays defence.

8:51 p.m. -- Woodstock on the PP again, as Jeremy Barron will sit for high-sticking at 5:09. Drew McLaughlin incensed about something after that play, and had to be restrained by a linesman.

8:53 p.m. -- Kody Orr and Mitchell O'Neill doing a tremendous job on the PK, disrupting passing lanes and blocking shots. Wes Herrett and Lucas McKinley beating the crap out of each other in front of the net.

8:55 p.m. -- Penalty over. Another huge kill for the hosts. 12:47 left.

8:58 p.m. -- Woodstock really pressing hard now. Ramblers ice the puck with 10:23 to go.

8:59 p.m. -- Slammers have tied it. Nick Huard with a burst of speed, and his backhander gets between Waye's pads at 10:00. Assist to Sean Stagles. 4-4

9 p.m. -- Woodstock keeps pressing and takes the lead. Tyler Gale left unchecked at the doorstep and converts a goalmouth pass at 10:40. Assists to Ryan Tesink and Michael Best. 5-4 Slammers

9:01 p.m. -- Ramblers take their 30-second timeout. Good call by the Amherst bench - hosts have been under seige this period and need to catch their breath.

9:03 p.m. -- 7:00 left. Shots are 9-3 Woodstock in the period.

9:06 p.m. -- Ramblers with some pressure, as O'Byrne has taken Bragg's place with Orr and O'Neill. Good shift from that line and the Slammers ice the puck with 4:46 left.

9:07 p.m. -- 4:16 to go. This has been a helluva hockey game. Faceoff at the Amherst blueline.

9:09 p.m. -- More great play from Mitchell O'Neill - strips a Woodstock defender in front of the Slammers net, but a wild wrist shot sails well wide of the top corner. 2:30 left.

9:11 p.m. -- 1:51 remaining. Faceoff in the Woodstock zone.

9:12 p.m. -- Final minute.

9:13 p.m. -- Ramblers force Piercey to cover up with 34.2 seconds left. Waye on the Amherst bench. Woodstock takes its 30-second timeout.

9:14 p.m. -- Slammers trying to freeze the puck, but no whistle. Play finally called with 10.9 seconds left and tempers flare. Justin Matthews and Andrew Langan tangle along the boards while linesmen attend to preventing another fight from starting, and they're gone for fighting. Faceoff coming outside the Woodstock zone.

9:17 p.m. -- Slammers ice the puck and it's over. Shots 9-5 Woodstock in the third, 36-29 Slammers for the game. Still more jawing as the teams head off.

Three stars -- 1. Tyler Gale, Woodstock; 2. Nick Huard, Woodstock; 3. Jeremy Barron, Amherst.

Final thoughts -- Slammers got the two points, and showed the poise and experience of a veteran team to come back and get its only lead of the game in the final 10 minutes, but the Ramblers made them work every step of the way for it. No reason for the hosts to hang their heads about that one, as this team seems to be driven to prove that it is still dangerous enough not to be taken lightly as a stepping stone for someone else on a championship run.

Injury update -- Scott Bragg has four stitches in his lip and three cracked teeth. Brandon Mercer took an elbow to the head Friday in Bridgewater and will be out a minimum of seven days with a concussion.

Eric Boudreau, on the team's play as of late: "People don't really see us as a threat any more. They think we've lost our captain and our assistant captain, and we're just going to shut 'er down. And that's where part of our motivation comes from."

Organizations: Maritime Junior A Hockey League

Geographic location: AMHERST, Bridgewater, Jeremy Barron-Justin Matthews-Brandon Street Brandon Street

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