AMHERST -- The Ramblers (16-23-1-1) edged the Summerside Western Capitals (18-15-1-1) 5-4 in overtime tonight in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action at the Stadium.
Following is the live blog transcript.
Pre-game notes -- The Capitals last played Wednesday, a 6-4 road loss to the Woodstock Slammers. Amherst was blanked 6-0 by the Truro Bearcats at home Friday, with Truro scoring four times in the final 8:23 of regulation ... The Ramblers are 4-4 for the month, while the Capitals are 2-3-0-1 ... Amherst has lost two in a row, and Summerside three straight ... The Ramblers are two points up on Yarmouth for the fifth and final playoff berth in the Bent Division. Yarmouth, which has four games in hand on the Ramblers, is home to Woodstock tonight.
6:30 p.m. -- Teams out for the warm-up. Brandon Mercer and Shane O'Byrne back in the Amherst lineup. Jonathan Pardy scratched. Capitals coach Gordie Dwyer and enforcer Will Johnston are sitting out tonight with suspensions.
Starting goaltenders are Jon Waye for Amherst and Paul Dorsey for Summerside.
Referee tonight is John Gallant.
7:05 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. First line for Amherst is Justin Matthews with Brandon Street and Jeremy Barron. Eric Boudreau and Ryan Matheson on defence.
7:06 p.m. -- Other line combos for Amherst are Mitchell O'Neill with Kody Orr and Scott Bragg, Simon Bissonnette with Peter Baldwin and Josh Coleman, and Kodi Estey with Trevor Layton and Shane O'Byrne . Other defensive pairings are Wes Herrett and Drew McLaughlin, and Brandon Mercer with Yohann Mathieu.
7:07 p.m. -- Waye with a big save early, sliding across to get a toe on Cole MacMillan's backhand attempt. on an odd-man rush after Chad Earle waltzed down the middle of the ice between Mercer and Mathieu. Both defenders converged on him on the three-on-two, leaving MacMillan wide open.
7:09 p.m. -- And Mercer takes the game's first penalty at 2:10 for interference, falling on top of Spencer MacDonald and giving him a shot well after the play had left the ice.
7:10 p.m. -- Justin Matthews strips Spencer MacDonald of the puck at the Amherst blueline and is gone. He converts the breakaway unassisted and shorthanded at 2:49. His team-leading 18th of the season. 1-0 Ramblers
7:13 p.m. -- Mercer's minor is over.
7:15 p.m. -- Chad Earle sweeps in for a backhand attempt. Rebound comes to Cole MacMillan and his low shot sneaks by a screened Waye at 5:37. 1-1
7:17 p.m. -- Nathan DesRoches gets a stick on Ned O'Brien's slapshot and tips it between Waye's pads at 7:15 to give the visitors the lead. Goal is announced as O'Brien from Darcy Ashley and Harrison McIver, but it looked like DesRoches tipped it in. 2-1 Capitals
7:19 p.m. -- Amherst with a chance to break right back, with Jason Gallant sitting for roughing at 7:42.
7:21 p.m. -- Gallant back on the ice. Ramblers with just one shot on goal on the PP.
7:21 p.m. -- 10:00 left. Shots 5-3 Capitals.
7:23 p.m. -- Simon Bissonnette with a chance in front off an Eric Boudreau point shot, but Dorsey covers up.
7:24 p.m. -- Ramblers have tied it. Justin Matthews with a centering pass and Dorsey slides across, but Jeremy Barron with an alert move to switch to his backhand and go the other way, and Dorsey has no chance at 11:26. Second assist to Ryan Matheson. Barron joins Matthews with 18 goals on the year. 2-2
7:28 p.m. -- 6:23 left in the first. Faceoff at the Amherst blueline.
7:29 p.m. -- Brandon Mercer with his second minor of the period, holding at 14:53.
7:31 p.m. -- Capitals move the puck well around the perimeter on the PP and aren't afraid to shoot from anywhere. Waye has been fighting the puck, and needs to be better at rebound control and not giving up second-chance opportunities.
7:33 p.m. -- Back to five-on-five hockey, but not for long as Brandon Street belts a Capitals player behind the Summerside net, and everyone but the goalies decide to have a meet-and-greet. Street called for boarding, and Yohann Mathieu and Lance Pridham for roughing after the whistle. All this at 17:20. Summerside back on the power play.
7:38 p.m. -- Last minute of the period.
7:39 p.m. -- Penalty over. Waye gets a glove on a slapper at the buzzer, and the period has ended. Shots 15-12 Summerside.
After 20 minutes -- Pretty wide open first period, with both teams suffering from defensive lapses. First line carrying the load offensively for Amherst. Ramblers need to be careful with how much they use the Mathieu-Mercer defensive pairing, as they have had trouble containing the Capitals' speedy forward units.
7:54 p.m. -- Second period has started.
7:59 p.m. -- Ramblers have switched up their defensive units. Mercer now with Matheson, and Mathieu with Herrett.
8:01 p.m. -- Good hustle from Matheson to break up a possible three-on-one after Drew McLaughlin turned the puck over in the neutral zone near the end of his shift.
8:03 p.m. -- More good work from the first line. Brandon Street forces a turnover and feeds Barron at the goalmouth, but Dorsey is there for the stop.
8:04 p.m. -- Pace of the game has slowed considerably. Both teams clamping down on defence. Good shift from Amherst's fourth line with a couple of scoring chances.
8:05 p.m. -- And more pressure from the hosts, as Scott Bragg just missed Kody Orr on the doorstep.
8:05 p.m. -- Summerside's Cole MacMillan handed a 10-minute misconduct at 6:21.
8:07 p.m. -- And now Orr just misses springing Bragg, who was in behind the Summerside defence. Pass was between Bragg's legs and he couldn't corral it.
8:10 p.m. -- 10:50 left in the second. Shots in the period are 10-1 Amherst. That seems like a little much, but the Ramblers have carried the play for the most part.
8:13 p.m. -- Have seen very little of Eric Boudreau in this period, if at all. He is on the Amherst bench.
8:14 p.m. -- Boudreau out there now with Mathieu. Waye with a nice blocker save on an odd-man rush.
8:16 p.m. -- 7:01 to go. Faceoff at the Amherst blueline. Lots of whistles in this period.
8:17 p.m. -- Ramblers have regained the lead with more magic from the first unit. Barron with a backhand pass to a wide-open Matthews in front and he buries it at 13:15. Brandon Street with the second assist. 3-2 Ramblers
8:19 p.m. -- Trevor Layton with a solid hit on Steven Brazil along the boards in the Summerside zone, and Shane O'Byrne nails Brazil from behind as he's getting back up. Trevor Carmichael rushes in and he and O'Byrne go at it briefly before falling to the ice. O'Byrne with two for boarding and five for fighting, and Carmichael five for fighting. Summerside on the PP at 14:38.
8:21 p.m. -- And the Capitals have tied it. Point shot rebound goes back to Darcy Ashley in the slot and he wires it home at 15:25. Assists to Nathan DesRoches and Harrison McIver. Power play goal. 3-3
8:25 p.m. -- Summerside on the power play again. Scott Bragg in hard on the forecheck, but it's called boarding at 17:25.
8:27 p.m. -- Final minute of the period.
8:27 p.m. -- Penalty over. Good kill by the Ramblers, as Summerside didn't get much established there.
8:28 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 14-8 Amherst in the second, 26-23 Ramblers through two.
After 40 minutes -- Ramblers the better team for most of the period, but their shots on goal weren't particularly hard for Dorsey to stop, mainly coming from the perimeter with no rebound opportunities. Summerside getting more power-play chances and that has to change if the hosts are to come out of this with two points. Can't remember the last time I've seen three boarding minors in a full game, let alone through two periods.
8:44 p.m. -- Third period has begun.
8:46 p.m. -- Chad Earle with a harmless-looking shot that fools Waye, but skims off the outside of the post. Waye telling his defence not to get so low, so he must not have seen it.
8:48 p.m. -- The first line on fire for the hosts. Good work from Street and the puck bounces to Matthews in the slot and he snaps it just inside the far post at 2:33 for the hat trick and No. 20 on the season. Barron with the second assist. 4-3 Ramblers
8:49 p.m. -- Capitals come right back with a three-on-two, but Waye gets a pad on a tipped centering pass.
8:53 p.m. -- Ramblers pouring it on here. Capitals have been on their heels the last two minutes or so.
8:55 p.m. -- 12:23 to go. Faceoff to Waye's right.
8:56 p.m. -- Capitals have tied it. Low wrist shot bounces through a maze of skates and through the five-hole on Waye at 7:46. Darcy Ashley given credit, from Nathan DesRoches and Harrison McIver. 4-4
9 p.m. -- Midway through the period. Shots in the third are 10-5 Amherst.
9:02 p.m. -- Ramblers going on the PP. Ned O'Brien falls while coming upice, then gets up and knockers over an Amherst player in the process. He goes for tripping at 11:45.
9:04 p.m. -- Summerside's Cole MacMillan with an opportunity shorthanded off a turnover at his team's blueline, but his shot sails high over the net.
9:06 p.m. -- Capitals back at even strength.
9:07 p.m. -- Summerside now on the PP. Josh Coleman on the forecheck gets his arm up and yanks a Capitals defender to the ice. Called holding at 14:24.
9:09 p.m. -- Puck rolls off Harrison McIver's stick in front of the net on a rebound with plenty of open space to shoot at. Ramblers caught a break there.
9:10 p.m. -- Another chance for the visitors as Waye doesn't know where the puck is and it pops loose from under his pad, but it's swept away in time.
9:11 p.m. -- Coleman's minor is over. 3:24 to go. Faceoff to Dorsey's right.
9:12 p.m. -- 2:39 left. Shots now 15-10 Amherst in this period.
9:14 p.m. -- 1:21 to go. Faceoff in the Summerside zone.
9:15 p.m. -- Final minute.
9:17 p.m. -- We're headed to overtime. Shots 15-13 Amherst in the third, 41-36 Ramblers through regulation.
Overtime coming up.
9:20 p.m. -- Four-on-four OT has started. Street and Matthews with Matheson and Boudreau to start for Amherst.
9:21 p.m. -- Capitals ice the puck with 3:40 remaining in the five-minute extra period.
9:22 p.m. -- And it's over. Eric Boudreau's harmless-looking point shot gets by a screened Dorsey for the winner at 1:33. Peter Baldwin might've tipped that home. 5-4 Ramblers. Boudreau given credit from Baldwin. Shots 2-0 Amherst in OT, 43-36 Ramblers for the game.
Three stars -- 1. Justin Matthews, Amherst; 2. Darcy Ashley, Summerside; 3. Jeremy Barron, Amherst.
Final thoughts -- A quality character win against a good opponent in an entertaining back-and-forth game. Ramblers responded well after the tough final 10 minutes against Truro, and moved four points up on Yarmouth for fifth in the Bent, as the Mariners were shut out 4-0 by Woodstock tonight.
Post-game notes -- Former Ramblers captain Adam Chipman stopped by the dressing room on his way back from a trip to the Royal Military College in Ontario, where he is applying for enrolment next year ... Shane O'Byrne was held out of Friday's game with Truro with back spasms, and Brandon Mercer was given another day to rest after complaining of headaches. He suffered a concussion in Bridgewater on Jan. 15 ... Jonathan Pardy was scratched with concussion-like symptoms, and is doubtful for the Ramblers' next game a week from tonight at home to Campbellton.
Justin Matthews, on the new-found chemistry his team seems to have since the trade deadline -- "The boys are starting to realize that hard work pays off. Everyone in that dressing room wants to make the playoffs, everyone's got each other's back, and this is starting to become a family."