Ramblers fend off Tigers 3-1

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST -- The Ramblers (17-23-1-1) defeated the Campbellton Tigers (6-30-2-2) 3-1 on Saturday night in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action at the Stadium.

Following is the live blog transcript:

Pre-game notes -- It's just the second meeting of the season between these teams. Amherst won the first one, 3-1 in Campbellton on Oct. 23 ... The Ramblers are 5-4 in January. The Tigers are 2-7 ... Campbellton was scheduled to host the Summerside Western Capitals on Friday, but the game was postponed because of a snowstorm. The Tigers lost 6-3 to Woodstock on Wednesday, and visit Miramichi on Sunday ... Amherst hasn't played in a week, coming off a 5-4 overtime win at home against Summerside. The Ramblers' home record is 10-9-0-1. Campbellton is 4-15-0-0 on the road ... Amherst is two points ahead of Yarmouth for the last playoff berth in the Bent Division, and four back of fourth-place Halifax. Yarmouth and Halifax squandered opportunities with some of their games in hand this week -- Yarmouth was beaten 6-5 by Pictou County on Thursday and 6-0 by Bridgewater on Friday, while Halifax lost 10-6 to Summerside on Thursday and 6-2 to Woodstock on Friday.

6:30 p.m. -- Teams out for the warm-up. Kodi Estey the lone scratch for Amherst. Justin Matthews wearing the captain's C tonight. The Tigers have 14 first-year MJAHL players in their lineup. Sean Gallagher, Nicholas Cyr, Kevin Savoie and Jean Rock Theriault not dressed for Campbellton.

Referee tonight is Corey Hayne.

Starting goalies are Randy Chisholm for Campbellton and Jon Waye for Amherst.

7:02 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. Usual first line of Justin Matthews centering Brandon Street and Jeremy Barron. Eric Boudreau and Ryan Matheson on defence.

7:03 p.m. -- Other line combos for Amherst are Mitchell O'Neill with Kody Orr and Scott Bragg, Jonathan Pardy with Peter Baldwin and Josh Coleman, and Trevor Layton with Shane O'Byrne and Simon Bissonnette. Other defensive pairings are Drew McLaughlin and Wes Herrett, and Brandon Mercer and Yohann Mathieu.

7:06 p.m. -- Game's first penalty goes to Campbellton, with Stephen Groom off for hooking at 3:13.

7:08 p.m. -- Ramblers switching up their defensive units, not pairing Mathieu and Mercer. Mathieu playing more with Boudreau and Mercer with Matheson.

7:09 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers with no shots on goal on the PP.

7:11 p.m. -- Home side a little rusty. Shots are 8-1 Campbellton in the opening 6:21, but no real scoring chances for the Tigers.

7:14 p.m. -- Nice pass from Mitchell O'Neill to spring Kody Orr on a breakaway, but Randy Chisholm closes the five-hole in time.

7:16 p.m. -- Ramblers starting to pick up the pace now. Good shift from the Matthews line followed by a good one from the fourth line of Bissonnette-Layton-O'Byrne.

7:17 p.m. -- Campbellton going on the PP. Yohann Mathieu called for slashing at 10:52.

7:20 p.m. -- Penalty over. Tigers did not get a shot on goal with the extra man.

7:24 p.m. -- 2:47 left in the period. Faceoff to Chisholm's right. Shots now 13-11 Amherst.

7:26 p.m. -- Tigers back on the PP. Hayne catches Simon Bissonnette on the retaliation, and it's roughing at 17:42.

7:27 p.m. -- Final minute.

7:28 p.m. -- Penalty over. Puck is iced with 2.6 seconds left.

7:29 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 14-12 Ramblers.

After 20 minutes -- Pretty uneventful period, which means a moral victory for the road team. Ramblers came out flat but were better in the final 10 minutes. Tigers have some skaters and are playing a very basic game - pucks to the net and look for a rebound.

7:43 p.m. -- Second period has started.

7:48 p.m. -- Not a lot of flow to start this period. Lots of stops and starts. Ramblers need a big hit or scoring chance to get the crowd going.

7:51 p.m. -- Amherst on the board. Justin Matthews denied at the doorstep, but the puck comes back to Jeremy Barron and his wrist shot from a bad angle finds the top corner at 4:51. Unassisted goal. 1-0 Ramblers

7:52 p.m. -- First line with another chance, but Barron is stripped of the puck in the slot.

7:53 p.m. -- Shane O'Byrne drives hard to the net and is hauled down. Dereck Larade called for holding at 5:46.

7:55 p.m. -- Campbellton with a couple of chances while shorthanded, as the Ramblers are turning the puck over at the blueline and giving up two-on-ones.

7:57 p.m. -- Penalty over. 12:06 to go in the second.

7:58 p.m. -- Tigers are buzzing around the Amherst net. Line of Baldwin-Pardy-Coleman was pinned in its own end for almost a minute.

8 p.m. -- Campbellton still forechecking hard and the puck is in the Amherst net, but Hayne disallows it as it was kicked in. 9:37 to go. Shots 12-5 Campbellton in the period.

8:01 p.m. -- Amherst going back on the PP. Grant West called for interference at 10:42.

8:03 p.m. -- Ramblers capitalize. Ryan Matheson with a bullet from about 15 feet inside the blueline that finds the top shelf at 11:22. Assists to Jeremy Barron and Brandon Street. A dandy from Matheson that Chisholm had no chance on. Power play goal. 2-0 Ramblers

8:07 p.m. -- 6:42 remaining. Faceoff to Chisholm's right.

8:09 p.m. -- Drew McLaughlin shatters his stick on a slapshot. Puck slides easily into Chisholm's pads and he covers up.

8:11 p.m. -- Tigers still sticking to their systems. Dump and chase, shoot from anywhere and hope for the best. Waye now at 30 saves, but most have been fairly easy, and Waye is doing a much better job at rebound control.

8:13 p.m. -- First line for the Ramblers with another chance. Chisholm gets a toe on Jeremy Barron's low wrister.

8:15 p.m. -- Last minute of the period.

8:16 p.m. -- Drew McLaughlin with the best hit of the game, rubbing out Campbellton's Jason Smallman with a clean shoulder-to-shoulder blow along the boards.

8:16 p.m. -- Another flurry from the first unit, as Justin Matthews just missed a one-timer from Brandon Street. Puck was bouncing and tough to corral.

8:17 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 19-12 Campbellton in the second, 31-26 Tigers through two.

After 40 minutes -- First line shouldering the load offensively for the hosts again. Waye playing well in goal but hasn't made too many difficult stops. Tigers don't have any real snipers and Amherst has a couple, and that has been the difference.

8:36 p.m. -- Third period has begun.

8:38 p.m. -- Campbellton on the PP. Peter Baldwin stripped of the puck in the neutral zone by Jake Guindon, and Baldwin gives him a tug to slow him down. Called hooking at 59 seconds.

8:39 p.m. -- Ryan Matheson playing well tonight. Steps up to intercept a cross-ice pass and sends the puck down the ice.

8:41 p.m. -- Penalty over.

8:43 p.m. -- Good hustle from Eric Boudreau after a turnover at the Campbellton blueline to keep Jason Smallman from charging hard to the net.

8:44 p.m. -- An excuse-me moment as Jonathan Pardy and Drew McLaughlin collide. McLaughlin composes himself enough to toss the puck outside the Ramblers zone with his glove.

8:45 p.m. -- First line back at it again. Jeremy Barron with a couple more chances in close, and Justin Matthews whacks away at a rebound, but the whistle is blown to stop play. 13:34 left.

8:47 p.m. -- Unnecessary penalty from Yohann Mathieu. Hacks Jason Smallman on the wrist well away from the puck and in plain sight of Hayne. It's slashing at 7:06.

8:49 p.m. -- Tigers are on the board. Brett Bernard's point shot catches the far post, and Waye didn't see it in a maze of players at 8:16. Power play goal from Jake Guindon and Brandon Paul. Campbellton not going away. 2-1 Ramblers

8:51 p.m. -- Campbellton pressing for the equalizer now. Ramblers need to push back.

8:52 p.m. -- Good shift from the Orr-O'Neill-Bragg unit. That needs to be followed up.

8:54 p.m. -- Zethariah Zeilinski rings a wrister off the crossbar with 9:20 to go on a three-on-one.

8:55 p.m. -- 8:02 left. Shots 7-5 Amherst in the period.

8:57 p.m. -- Ramblers running around in their own end, and the puck is iced with 7:08 left.

8:58 p.m. -- Amherst regains the two-goal cushion. Jonathan Pardy's drop pass to Eric Boudreau is one-timed home at 13:48. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the crowd and the Amherst bench. 3-1 Ramblers

9 p.m. -- Tigers call timeout with 5:32 to go.

9:03 p.m. -- 3:40 left. Faceoff to Waye's right.

9:04 p.m. -- Kody Orr blocks a point shot and it's a footrace to a loose puck between him and Chisholm. Chisholm just gets to it and clears the puck out of harm's way.

9:06 p.m. -- Puck cleared into the Amherst bench with 1:36 to go. Faceoff in the Amherst zone and Chisholm still in the Tigers net.

9:07 p.m. -- Amherst ices the puck with 1:06 left and Campbellton still keeps Chisholm out there.

9:08 p.m. -- Chisholm finally off the ice with about 40 seconds to go, but that's only for about 10 seconds. Brandon Street with a wide-open net, but hits the post.

9:09 p.m. -- Game over. Shots 9-8 Amherst in the third, 39-35 Campbellton for the game.

Three stars -- 1. Jeremy Barron, Amherst; 2. Eric Boudreau, Amherst; 3. Jake Guindon, Campbellton.

Final thoughts -- Ramblers were guilty at times of playing down to the level of their opponent tonight, but credit must be given to a Campbellton team with a very good work ethic that, with a bounce or two, might have earned at least a point. Amherst's first line was solid again, the Ramblers won the special teams battle, and Waye held the fort when he had to. Amherst takes six of 10 games in January, and moves four points clear of Yarmouth and within two of Halifax in the Bent Division playoff chase.

Ryan Matheson, on playing a young Campbellton squad: "I was there last year and they're the same way -- they know they're rebuilding and they have nothing to lose, so they just go out every night and give it their all."

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Campbellton Tigers, Maritime Junior A Hockey League, Bent Division Summerside Western Capitals

Geographic location: Campbellton, Yarmouth, Brandon Street Summerside Miramichi Pictou County

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