Ramblers fall 5-3 to Bearcats

Jody Jewers
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AMHERST -- The Ramblers (18-25-1-1) lost 5-3 to the Truro Bearcats (31-6-3-3) on Friday night in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action at the Stadium.

Following is the live blog transcript.

Pre-game notes -- Bent Division standings heading into tonight's action:

Truro -- 42 games played, 66 points (clinched division title)

Pictou County -- 43 GP, 49 pts (clinched playoff berth)

Halifax -- 43 GP, 42 pts

Bridgewater -- 43 GP, 42 pts

Yarmouth -- 46 GP, 40 pts

Amherst -- 44 GP, 38 pts

Bridgewater is hosting Woodstock and Halifax is visiting Miramichi tonight.

Truro is 1-1-1-1 for February, including a shootout and overtime loss to Woodstock. Amherst is 1-1 this month ... The Bearcats have given up the fewest goals (88) and taken the least amount of penalties (716 minutes) in the league ... Truro's power play is operating at 22.8 per cent efficiency, and their penalty kill is successful 81.2 per cent of the time. Amherst is at 19 per cent on the PP, and 75.5 per cent on the PK.

7 p.m. -- Teams out for the warmup. Dana Fraser, the MJAHL's leading scorer, is back in the Truro lineup after missing three games. Not dressed for the Bearcats are Cole Hawes, Jamie MacIntyre, Matt Lundrigan and Dylan McGuigan. Kodi Estey the lone scratch for Amherst. Scott Bragg not wearing the full cage for the Ramblers -- he took a stick in the teeth on Jan. 16 vs. Woodstock.

Starting goalies are Richard Gagnon for Truro and Jon Waye for Amherst.

Referee tonight is Jon Langille.

7:31 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. Usual first line for Amherst of Justin Matthews between Brandon Street and Jeremy Barron. Eric Boudreau and Ryan Matheson on defence, but that pairing hasn't lasted long in previous games.

7:33 p.m. -- Early PP chance for Truro. Wes Herrett called for slashing 58 seconds in.

7:36 p.m. -- Penalty over. Bearcats didn't get a shot on goal in the man advantage.

7:36 p.m. -- Other line combos unchanged for Amherst -- Kody Orr with Mitchell O'Neill and Scott Bragg, Peter Baldwin with Jonathan Pardy and Josh Coleman, and Simon Bissonnette with Shane O'Byrne and Trevor Layton. Boudreau back with Yohann Mathieu on defence and Matheson with Brandon Mercer, and Drew McLaughlin with Herrett.

7:37 p.m. -- Ramblers on the board with a goal from the fourth line. Simon Bissonnette's wrister through traffic gets by Gagnon at 3:20. Assist to Shane O'Byrne. Bissonnette's first goal since Jan. 5. 1-0 Ramblers

7:40 p.m. -- And more good work from Bissonnette, as he blows by Sam Caldwell, forcing him to use his stick to slow him down. Langille is there to call it hooking at 5:06.

7:42 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers with good pressure, but Gagnon holding his ground.

7:44 p.m. -- 11:56 left in the first. Shots 8-4 Amherst. Great pace to this game. Ramblers have come out with the sense of urgency needed given their place in the standings and with the level of opponent in the building tonight.

7:47 p.m. -- Street, Matthews and Barron buzzing around the Truro goal. Gagnon covers up as we reach the midpoint of the first.

7:51 p.m. -- Justin Matthews with an amazing wrist shot and the Ramblers are up by two. Eerily similar to Dana Fraser's goal here Jan. 22 -- an absolute laser from the top of the faceoff circle that rattles off the post and in just under the crossbar at 13:12. A beauty. Eric Boudreau with the assist. 2-0 Ramblers

7:53 p.m. -- Truro answers back. Yuri Cheremetiev left unchecked at point-blank range and sends a pass from Chris Ivanko from behind the net home at 14:54. Travis Moore with the second assist. 2-1 Ramblers

7:55 p.m. -- Bearcats buzzing again, and Yohann Mathieu is sent off for roughing at 15:51.

7:56 p.m. -- Truro storming the net and the puck is bouncing around, but Waye, minus his stick, corrals it.

7:57 p.m. -- Waye with a nice stop on a point shot that bounces off the end boards and right to a Truro attacker at the side of the net, getting the paddle down in time.

7:58 p.m. -- Penalty over.

7:58 p.m. -- Amherst going on the PP. Luke Cudmore called for tripping at 18:18.

7:59 p.m. -- And the Ramblers are back in front by two. Ryan Matheson's point shot goes through a maze of skates and sticks and beats Gagnon through the five-hole at 18:32. Assist to Scott Bragg. 3-1 Ramblers

8 p.m. -- 49.2 seconds left in the period. Faceoff to Waye's left.

8:02 p.m. -- Brandon Street almost beats Gagnon to a loose puck in front of the Truro net. The puck bounces dangerously close to the Bearcats goal before getting swept away as the period ends. Shots 15-15.

After 20 minutes -- Couldn't have asked for much more from the hosts there. Contributions from three lines and playoff-style intensity have given the Ramblers a well-deserved lead. That effort needs to be maintained.

8:16 p.m. -- Bearcats have made a goaltending change - Kirk Rafuse in to start the second.

8:17 p.m. -- Second period has begun.

8:23 p.m. -- Few more whistles in this period. Pace has slowed a bit. 3:28 gone.

8:26 p.m. -- Scott Bragg with the best hit so far tonight, sending Luke Cudmore sprawling.

8:27 p.m. -- Truro just misses converting a three-on-one, as Jordan Mock can't finish the one-timer from Eric Louis-Seize. 13:21 left.

8:29 p.m. -- Jon Pardy tops the Bragg hit, catching Doug Burns with his head down. Clean-shoulder-to-chest hit in open ice and Burns lands flat on his back.

8:31 p.m. -- Bearcats within a goal again. Waye can't get all of a Chris Ivanko shot, puck trickles through the five-hole and Yuri Cheremetiev swats it home at 9:10. Second assist to Travis Moore. 3-2 Ramblers

8:32 p.m. -- Truro has tied it. Dana Fraser from Donnie Churchill at 9:29. 3-3

8:34 p.m. -- Bearcats coming in waves now. Amherst has to respond. 8:48 left in the period.

8:38 p.m. -- Brett Frazee and Scott Bragg exchange words after a whistle, but nothing else comes of it.

8:40 p.m. -- 4:52 to go. Shots 7-7 this period. Faceoff to Rafuse's left.

8:44 p.m. -- Eric Louis-Seize with a blind side hit on Brandon Street, and Street goes down and isn't moving. Jeremy Barron goes after Louis-Seize, but that doesn't amount to much. Street not moving his right arm -- looks like a shoulder or collarbone injury -- and he's gone to the dressing room. Louis-Seize gets five for boarding and a game misconduct, and Barron two for roughing at 18:09.

8:47 p.m. -- Final minute.

8:49 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 9-8 Truro in the second, 24-23 Bearcats after two.

After 40 minutes -- Ramblers couldn't find the same gear they were in in the first period, and Truro made them pay, carrying the play for the most part. Loss of Street would be devastating for Amherst, as he has been the catalyst for the increased production of Matthews and Barron, and that line has been Amherst's only consistent scoring threat since the trade deadline.

9:04 p.m. -- Street did not come out with the rest of the Ramblers, so his night is done. Amherst will have a three-minute power play.

9:05 p.m. -- Shane O'Byrne out with Matthews and Barron on the PP.

9:06 p.m. -- Rafuse tries to clear the puck up the middle of the ice and Drew McLaughlin has an open net to shoot at, but a Truro defender gets a stick on his shot from the point.

9:08 p.m. -- Louis-Seize's major is over.

9:09 p.m. -- Pace of this game has really slowed down now. 14:59 left.

9:11 p.m. -- Scott Bragg with a nice end-to-end rush, gets hacked at twice but manages a backhander from his knees.

9:14 p.m. -- Ramblers are doing a good job forechecking, but Truro keeping the play along the boards in their end and not letting Amherst get pucks to the front of the net. 11:31 remaining.

9:18 p.m. -- Truro going on the PP. Brandon Mercer called for hooking at 10:03.

9:19 p.m. -- 44 seconds left in the man advantage. Faceoff to Waye's left.

9:20 p.m. -- Penalty over. Big kill for the home side. 7:54 to go.

9:22 p.m. -- Truro has taken the lead. Yuri Cheremetiev's low wrist shot beats Waye on the short side at 12:28. Unassisted. Not a difficult-looking shot. 4-3 Bearcats

9:25 p.m. -- Amherst going on the PP. Brett Frazee whistled for hooking at 14:12.

9:26 p.m. -- 38 seconds left in Frazee's minor. Faceoff at the Truro blueline.

9:28 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers couldn't get anything going on that one.

9:29 p.m. -- Amherst ices the puck. 3:03 remaining.

9:31 p.m. -- Final minute. Waye on the Ramblers bench.

9:32 p.m. -- Ramblers can't keep the puck in the Truro end, and Travis Moore sends it into an empty net with 8.5 seconds left. Unassisted. 5-3 Bearcats

9:33 p.m. -- Gave over. Shots 9-8 Truro in the third, 33-31 Bearcats for the game.

Three stars -- 1. Yuri Cheremetiev, Truro; 2. Chris Ivanko, Truro; 3. Jon Waye, Amherst. - can't say as I agree with Waye as third star after how that fourth goal looked. Thought Scott Bragg played very well tonight.

Final thoughts -- Ramblers came out flying but couldn't match that first-period intensity. Waye has to take his share of the blame on the fourth goal and didn't look particularly strong on Truro's second goal, and Amherst was noticeably deflated once Street went down. Getting Gagnon out of there was the right call for the visitors, as Rafuse was strong the rest of the way.

Brandon Street update -- Taken to hospital in Upper Nappan with a shoulder injury, the severity of which is not known.

Ramblers head coach/general manager Corey Crocker: "We competed well, but there's things we go over in practice, and guys just don't want to play their positions. We go over and over and over it, but I just don't get why some guys don't want to buy in to easy tactics that we teach. But it's over now, and all we can do is move on to tomorrow."

Amherst hosts Miramichi on Saturday at 7 p.m.

UPDATE -- Woodstock beat Bridgewater 6-4 and Miramichi defeated Halifax 7-3 tonight, so no change in the Bent Division standings.

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Maritime Junior A Hockey League, Bent Division

Geographic location: Miramichi, Brandon Street, Pictou County Upper Nappan

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