Phantoms still hopeful for playoff spot
With only eight games left in the regular season the Nova Scotia Junior C Fundy Phantoms are making a run for the playoffs.
"We're optimistic," Phantoms assistant coach Steve Leblanc said. "We still have a chance of competing this year and getting that final playoff spot."
The Phantoms sit in fifth place in the Central Division, six points behind the New Waterford Jets.
They have two games against the Jets down the stretch but before those battles they play four games, two of which are this weekend against the Avon River Rats and the Yarmouth Kings.
"These games are huge," Leblanc said. "We definitely have a better schedule ahead of us. Right now we're six points out of a playoff spot behind New Waterford so we have to win a couple of games here and there and we have a two game stand with New Waterford late in the season, which could be the difference between a place in the playoffs or not."
The last time the Phantoms played against the River Rats they won by a score of 5-3.
"We know they made a couple acquisitions at the deadline, which is going to strengthen their lineup a little bit, so we know we're going to be in tough," Leblanc said. "But that's certainly one of the teams in the league we can compete with."
Another team they will be in tough against before season's end is the Western Divisions first place team - the Clair Lions.
"We play the Lions late in the season and at that point who knows what will happen, because they may choose to rest their stars and it might be an opportunity to pick up a couple of points," Leblanc said.
Also boosting their confidence is the fact that Trevor Boardway is back in the lineup. Boardway was named the league's top goaltender last season.
"We recently got him back from the Junior B League and he'll be back next year so we're solid in net," Leblanc said. "Jesse Ogden has been solid for us all year, unfortunately he just moved away. So we're down to one goaltender right now, so Trevor is going to carry the load down the stretch."
Leblanc has high praise for his defencemen but is still hoping to find a big-time goal scorer.
"We need a game-breaker," Leblanc said. "We need someone who's going to score 30 or 35 goals a year for us like some of these other teams have."
Although they don't have a game-breaker right now, they hope to acquire one for the 2010-2011 hockey season.
"We are going to pursue some players in the New Brunswick area over the summer because we're allowed a certain number of imports and we might also pursue players from Truro and Brookfield as well.
"We still have a chance of competing this year and getting that final playoff spot but it is all part of the process of getting into Amherst this year and building from there."
Friday's game begins in Brooklyn at 8 p.m. and the puck drops against the Yarmouth Kings in Amherst on Sunday at 3 p.m.
The Phantoms are hosting a fundraiser at the Elm Tree Tavern Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.