AMHERST – The countdown to Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League action comes to an end when the CIBC Wood Gundy Fundy Phantoms and the Oxford Colts step on the ice Friday at 9 p.m. at Amherst Stadium.
Preseason action had both teams facing off against each other Sunday afternoon with a roster that will be improved Friday night.
“I thought we had a pretty good showing considering it was the first time we were together as a complete team,” Phantoms coach Steve LeBlanc said. “We had some guys who were away and had some guys who had just signed with us. We hadn’t really had a chance to work together as a team until that game, so we were a little slow getting out of the gate.”
It was a 3-1 game going into the third when the Colts began to dominate, finishing with a 6-1 win.
“I think the penalty shot that made it 4-1 was kind of a back breaker. It took the wind out of our sails,” LeBlanc added. “The biggest thing was conditioning. In the third period the wheels weren’t there, but that’s something we’re going to be working on. We’ll have a good on-ice conditioning program and hopefully they’ll take care of themselves off ice.”
LeBlanc also said they had three or four key guys who weren’t in the line-up on Sunday.
“I think when we get some of our veterans in the line-up we’ll be alright.”
On the other side of the ice coach Paul Atkinson says the Colts are, “pretty well set.”
“We’re probably going to have a new defenceman from Lower Sackville, Baird MacAdam. He’s a quality defenceman.”
Atkinson said two acquisitions out of Antigonish, Mike Litinsky and Andrew Barron, showed a lot of promise Sunday by combining for six points.
Talk to almost any hockey team and they say filling their roster on defence is a problem. The Colts are no exception.
“I think it’s because all the young kids want to play forward because they want to score goals instead of seeing the whole picture,” Atkinson said. “Starting at a younger age they’re not developing defencemen the way they’re developing goaltenders and forwards.”
Both teams have a busy weekend of hockey ahead of them and hope fans come out to cheer them on.
“We need the fan support in Amherst,” LeBlanc said. “We want to see as many people out to the arena on Friday as possible.”
Before Friday’s game the Phantoms will honour former Phantom, Bo Lattie, who died in a car crash on Sept. 4.
“We’ll be honouring Bo out of respect for him and his family,” LeBlanc said. “So it’s going to be an emotional night for us for sure.
“He was a Phantom at heart. He loved the team and everything it stood for.”
The Phantoms travel to Chester on Saturday to play the Clippers, and then return to Amherst Stadium Sunday where, beginning at 3 p.m., they will play a second game of a home-and-home against the Clippers.
After Friday’s game the Colts play the Junior Mariners Saturday in Musquodoboit.
“Our home opener is Oct. 15 in Oxford,” Atkinson said. “We hope to have a lot of people come out and support us.”