AMHERST -- The Ramblers (18-26-1-1) were pounded 8-2 by the Miramichi Timberwolves (30-14-1-0) on Saturday 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 -- 43 games played, 68 points (clinched division)
Pictou County -- 43 GP, 49 pts (clinched playoff berth)
Halifax -- 44 GP, 42 pts
Bridgewater -- 44 GP, 42 pts
Yarmouth -- 46 GP, 40 pts
Amherst -- 45 GP, 38 pts
Yarmouth hosts the Woodstock Slammers tonight. Halifax and Bridgewater are off.
These teams combined for seven fights and 138 penalty minutes a week ago in Miramichi, a 5-1 Timberwolves victory. The Timberwolves are the most penalized team in the league at 1,536 minutes. Amherst is fifth at 1,190.
Miramichi is 3-1 this month. The Ramblers are 1-2. The Timberwolves are the only team to have knocked off the Woodstock Slammers more than once, beating them 8-6 on Jan. 13 and 3-2 on Jan. 30.
The latest on Ramblers forward Brandon Street, according to head coach/general manager Corey Crocker, is that he will not play tonight, but there's a chance he could dress for Sunday's game in Truro. Street suffered a shoulder injury late in the second period Friday after being checked by Truro's Eric Louis-Seize, who received a boarding major and game misconduct.
6:30 p.m. -- Teams out for the warmup. Kodi Estey replacing Brandon Street for the Ramblers. Nathan McQuaid and James Williams not dressed for the Timberwolves.
Starting goalies are Jon Waye for Amherst and Chris Holden for Miramichi.
Referee tonight is Mark Hulshof.
7:01 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. First line tonight is Mitchell O'Neill centering Scott Bragg and Kody Orr. Eric Boudreau and Ryan Matheson on defence, but that pairing will change shortly, with Boudreau with Yohann Mathieu and Matheson with Brandon Mercer.
7:02 p.m. -- Miramichi with some early pressure. Bobby Christie with a good chance off a Chris Owens rebound.
7:03 p.m -- Other line combos for Amherst are Peter Baldwin with Jon Pardy and Josh Coleman, Justin Matthews with Jeremy Barron and Shane O'Byrne, and Trevor Layton with Simon Bissonnette and Kodi Estey. Drew McLaughlin and Wes Herrett the other defensive pairing. Boudreau getting double-shifted early with Matheson and Mathieu.
7:07 p.m. -- Lots of whistles early. Nowhere near the pace the Ramblers set with Truro last night.
7:09 p.m. -- Bragg-O'Neill-Orr unit getting lots of ice time to start this one.
7:12 p.m. -- There have been at least a dozen whistles so far, and we're barely six minutes in.
7:15 p.m. -- 12:46 left. Shots 7-5 Miramichi.
7:16 p.m. -- And we have our first fight. Sterling Bear crashes the crease looking for a rebound, Scott Bragg gives him a bump and Bear pops him with a left hand. They wrestle for a bit and Bragg has the jersey over Bear's head and drags him to the ice. Bear gets the extra two for that left jab. All this at 7:34.
7:19 p.m. -- 54 seconds left in Bear's minor.
7:20 p.m. -- Holden tries a clearing attempt from the side of his net, but the puck bounces off a defenceman and almost goes in. He caught a break there.
7:20 p.m. -- Just as Kyle Lapenskie is back on the ice for serving Bear's minor, he goes back in the box again for interference at 9:55.
7:22 p.m. -- Shane O'Byrne with a good chance at the side of the net, but Holden gets a pad on it.
7:22 p.m. -- And the Ramblers are on the board. Eric Boudreau's point shot gets between several bodies and past Holden at 11:04. Shane O'Byrne credited with the tip-in from Boudreau and Jeremy Barron. Power-play goal. 1-0 Ramblers
7:25 p.m. -- Ramblers ice the puck with 6:50 left.
7:27 p.m. -- Keith Grondin with a one-timer off the outside of the post for Miramichi.
7:30 p.m. -- Linesman catches the Timberwolves on a botched line change for too many men. Kyle Lapenskie serving his second minor of the period at 15:54. And Hulshof slaps the Miramichi bench with unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing that one. Sterling Bear serving that. Five-on-three for the home side.
7:33 p.m. -- Eric Boudreau hits the post on a one-timer.
7:34 p.m. -- Five-on-three over. Ramblers with a late flurry and it results in another Miramichi minor. Bobby Christie called for high-sticking at 18:07.
7:36 p.m. -- Final minute of the period.
7:37 p.m. -- 12.6 seconds left. Faceoff to Holden's left.
7:38 p.m. -- Chris Owens ices the puck as the buzzer sounds. Shots 16-11 Amherst.
After 20 minutes -- Ramblers getting the benefit of the calls so far and should've come away with more than a 1-0 lead, but no Brandon Street a huge obstacle to overcome offensively. Hosts need to maintain their discipline, as there will likely be an even-up call or two coming from Hulshof.
8:01 p.m. -- Teams back on the ice. There was a 15-minute Timbits game at the intermission, hence the delay.
8:03 p.m. -- Period has started. Christie's minor has expired.
8:05 p.m. -- Timberwolves have tied it. Matt Milson intercepts a clearing pass and Kyle Lapenskie rings a shot off the crossbar. Puck bounces to Jesse MacIntyre and he swats it home at 1:22. Assists to Milson and Lapenskie. 1-1
8:06 p.m. -- Miramichi takes the lead. Lapenskie keeps the puck on a two-on-one and goes top shelf over Waye's glove hand at 1:53. Nice shot from Lapenskie that Waye didn't have a chance on. Assists to Jesse MacIntyre and Matt Milson. 2-1 Timberwolves
8:11 p.m. -- 15:07 to go. Shots 3-3 in the period.
8:13 p.m. -- Sterling Bear takes a run at Simon Bissonnette. Bissonnette gets his head up just in time, but Bear still manages to knock him down.
8:16 p.m. -- 12:00 left. Faceoff to Waye's right.
8:17 p.m. -- Miramichi defenceman Josh Duyns loses an edge and goes hard into the boards in the Timberwolves end. Scott Bragg had him lined up and goes sailing over top of him and hits the boards hard, but pops right back up.
8:18 p.m. -- Ramblers have tied it. Trevor Layton with his first goal and first point since Jan. 10, capitalizing on a turnover at 8:54. Kodi Estey and Simon Bissonnette with the assists. 2-2. Big goal from an unlikely source.
8:22 p.m. -- Timberwolves have retaken the lead. Centering pass somehow manages to get by Waye (might've hit someone in front of the net) at 11:49. Sterling Bear with the goal from Bobby Christie and Ben MacSwain. 3-2 Timberwolves
8:24 p.m. -- Miramichi looking for more and it results in their first PP. Mitchell O'Neill called for hooking at 12:34.
8:26 p.m. -- Penalty shot awarded to Amherst. Justin Matthews with a great pass to Josh Coleman on a two-on-one and Coleman is hauled down. Coleman wasn't in the clear, but Hulshof immediately pointed to centre ice. Coleman's wrister goes well wide at 13:31.
8:28 p.m. -- Miramichi up by two. MacKenzie Kierstead with a pass to Kyle Lapenskie at the side of the net and he one-times it home before Waye can slide over at 13:58. Second assist to Chris Owens. Power play goal. 4-2 Timberwolves
8:29 p.m. -- Timberwolves continuing to pin Amherst in their own end. 5:22 left. Shots 12-6 Miramichi in the period.
8:32 p.m. -- Ramblers ice the puck with 3:21 to go. Miramichi winning all the battles for loose pucks now.
8:34 p.m. -- Sterling Bear in the middle of things again as he goes into the Ramblers crease, knocking the net off. Waye gives him a jab with his trapper. Simon Bissonnette called for roughing during the scrum at 17:08.
8:36 p.m. -- Miramichi increases its lead. Nick Croft pinches in from the point and doesn't get all of the one-timer from Chris Owens, but enough to sneak past Waye at 17:38. Second assist to MacKenzie Kierstead. Power-play goal. 5-2 Timberwolves
8:38 p.m. -- Amherst going on the PP. Dawson Campbell called for roughing during a post-whistle meet-and-greet at 18:39.
8:38 p.m. -- Final minute.
8:40 p.m. -- Eric Boudreau caught on a pinch-in and it's a two-on-one, but Boudreau hustles back to disrupt the play and the period comes to an end. Shots 17-6 Miramichi in the second, 28-22 Timberwolves through two.
After 40 minutes -- Miramichi clamped down on the discipline and their superior talent has taken over. Big, strong team has worn down the Ramblers with solid forechecking and clean, physical play on the boards, and the hosts simply aren't responding.
8:56 p.m. -- Third period underway. 38 seconds left in Campbell's minor.
8:57 p.m. -- Campbell out of the box.
9 p.m. -- Ramblers aren't getting anything done on the forecheck and aren't playing with any sense of urgency. Miramichi on the PP as Mitchell O'Neill whistled for slashing at 4:17.
9:02 p.m. -- Matt Milson left unchecked at the side of the net and he slides home a one-timer from Chris Owens at 4:55. Second assist to MacKenzie Kierstead. Power-play goal. 6-2 Timberwolves
9:04 p.m. -- Amherst with another PP chance. Miramichi bench called for unsportsmanlike conduct at 6:04. Kyle Lapenskie has two goals and an assist tonight, and he's serving a third minor penalty he wasn't responsible for.
9:08 p.m. -- Penalty over. Everything is on the perimeter for the Ramblers. No one going to the net.
9:09 p.m. -- Miramichi back on the PP. Kodi Estey sitting for slashing at 8:32.
9:10 p.m. -- Justin Matthews and Eric Boudreau with a two-on-one chance, but a high pass can't be controlled by Matthews.
9:11 p.m. -- Matthews blocks a shot and is slow to get up. He hobbles off favouring his left leg.
9:11 p.m. -- Estey's minor over.
9:12 p.m. -- 8:07 left. Shots 3-3 in the period. Miramichi just trying to run out the clock now.
9:15 p.m. -- Matthews back out there. Ramblers going through the motions. Jon Pardy gets a double minor for high-sticking at 13:49.
9:19 p.m. -- Now a five-on-three. Wes Herrett called for cross-checking at 14:58.
9:20 p.m. -- Miramichi picking the Ramblers apart. Chris Owens blows a one-timer by Waye at 15:43. He had all day to get set up on that. Assists to MacKenzie Kierstead and Keith Grondin. Still a five-on-three. 7-2 Timberwolves
9:22 p.m. -- Getting really ugly now. Timberwolves with another PP goal at 16:15. Dawson Campbell from Ryan Taylor. 8-2 Timberwolves. Devon Cudmore in goal now. Still a five-on-four.
9:25 p.m. -- Back to five-on-five. 2:11 left.
9:27 p.m. -- One minute to go.
9:29 p.m. -- And mercifully it's over. Shots 12-4 Miramichi in the third, 40-26 Timberwolves for the night.
Three stars -- 1. Kyle Lapenskie, Miramichi; 2. Chris Owens, Miramichi; 3. Matt Milson, Miramichi.
Final thoughts -- This looked just as bad as the pre-Christmas edition of the Ramblers that didn't win a game in December. Amherst rolled over and died in the third period and hung Waye out to dry. If the Timberwolves can stop taking silly penalties, they have the horses that could push a Woodstock or a Truro in a seven-game series. Amazing how much the absence of Brandon Street means to this team, as Jeremy Barron and Justin Matthews were neutralized offensively and the Ramblers don't have enough consistency in their supporting cast to get more than a couple of goals a night with him gone.
Woodstock hung on to beat Yarmouth 4-3 tonight, so the Ramblers remain two points out of a playoff spot with four games to go.
Amherst visits Truro on Sunday at 7 p.m.