Ramblers lose 3-2 heartbreaker to Bearcats

Jody Jewers
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TRURO -- The Ramblers (10-11-0-1) lost 3-2 to the Bent Division-leading Truro Bearcats (15-2-1-1) in Maritime Junior A Hockey League action tonight at Colchester Legion Stadium.

Following is the live blog transcript.

7 p.m. -- Teams out for the warmup. Scratches for Amherst are Jonathan Pardy (shoulder) and Trevor Layton (ankle). Not dressed for Truro are Stephen Walker (flu), Colin Beck (foot) and Matt Lundrigan (healthy).

Referee tonight is Mark Hulshof.

Starting goalies are Jon Waye for Amherst and Kirk Rafuse for Truro.

7:25 p.m. -- Good crowd here, even with Truro hosting its Christmas parade tonight, which began at the Stadium parking lot, so the rink lot and side streets were close to full well before fans started arriving.

7:28 p.m. -- No Corey Crocker on the bench for the Ramblers tonight, as he's scouting talent at the Monctonian midget tournament this weekend.

7:32 p.m. -- Puck has dropped and we're underway. First line for the Ramblers is Barron-Chipman-Matthews, with Smith and Boudreau as the defensive pairing.

7:33 p.m. -- Other line combos for Amherst are Orr-Bragg-Estey, Bissonnette-Carson-O'Byrne, and O'Neill-Coleman-Mercer (Mercer moved up to take Layton's spot). Other defensive units are Matheson-McLaughlin and Herrett-Mathieu.

7:35 p.m. -- First fight of the night pits Mathieu against Luke Cudmore. Mathieu with the better of the exchange as he sends Cudmore to the ice. They go at 1:22.

7:38 p.m. -- Lots of banging and crashing out there to start. Ramblers are forechecking hard in the Truro zone and it nets them a power play chance. Jamie MacIntyre will sit for tripping at 4:23.

7:39 p.m. -- Justin Matthews with a golden chance for the first goal, but whiffs on a one-timer from Derek Smith.

7:41 p.m. -- Good work on the PP nets Amherst a goal. Justin Matthews' slapper gets through a crowd and past Rafuse on the stick side at 5:52. Assists to Derek Smith and Eric Boudreau. 1-0 Ramblers

7:42 p.m. -- Almost 2-0 as Scott Bragg's drop pass to Shane O'Byrne is whistled off the crossbar. Ramblers are really working hard to start this game and are playing at a very quick pace.

7:45 p.m. -- 10:36 to go in the period. Shots 6-2 Amherst. Very few whistles in this one.

7:48 p.m. -- Kendall MacInnis with a good scoring chance for Truro, but can't find the short side.

7:48 p.m. -- First Truro PP, with Adam Chipman off for interference at 11:13.

7:49 p.m. -- Lot of the younger Ramblers (Orr, Estey, Coleman, Herrett) doing the penalty killing tonight.

7:50 p.m. -- Penalty over. Truro with three shots on the PP, but no real good scoring chances.

7:52 p.m. -- Ramblers with another good chance to score. Scott Bragg bumped off the puck on the rush, but Derek Smith swoops in past a Truro defender for a clear shot, which sails over the net.

7:53 p.m. -- Ramblers running around a bit in their end, and Waye has to be sharp, sliding across his crease quickly for a blocker save.

7:55 p.m. -- 4:07 left in the period. Faceoff to Rafuse's right.

7:56 p.m. -- Ramblers with an extended sequence in Truro's end while Bearcat Luke Cudmore was playiing without his stick. They tried to feed Eric Boudreau at the point for a shot, since he was Cudmore's man, but couldn't get anything going.

7:57 p.m. -- Kodi Estey takes a blindside hit and immediately goes down. No penalty on the play. Estey skates back to the bench hobbled over in pain.

7:59 p.m. -- In the final minute. Estey back out for his next shift, so I guess he's OK.

8 p.m. -- First period over. Shots even at 9-9.

After 20 minutes -- A carbon copy of the last time these teams met, with great intensity, furious skating, and the difference coming down to who will win the battle on special teams, which Amherst has to this point. Ramblers doing a tremendous job on the forecheck, and will win this game if they can sustain this effort.

8:21 p.m. -- Second period underway.

8:22 p.m. -- Truro with an early PP chance, as Jeremy Barron is called for hooking at 46 seconds.

8:23 p.m. -- Bearcats tie it. Ben MacAskill's point shot was headed wide, but it bounces off Jordan Mock at the side of the net and in. Second assist to Dana Fraser at 1:01. 1-1

8:24 p.m. -- Another Truro PP. Scott Bragg goes for hooking at 1:20.

8:26 p.m . -- Penalty over. Ramblers gave Truro the momentum with the two quick calls against, and need to get it back.

8:28 p.m. -- Truro almost gets another fluke goal, as Donnie Churchill's point shot was well wide, but hits an Amherst defender and bounces through the crease.

8:28 p.m. -- Big open-ice collision between Truro's Shawn Wright and Amherst's Scott Bragg. Both go down, so call it even.

8:29 p.m. -- Zach Carson's shot somehow winds up in the equipment of a Truro defender, stopping play.

8:30 p.m. -- Amhest on the PP. Jamie MacIntyre with a hit from behind on Derek Smith, and is called for interference at 7:22.

8:34 p.m. -- Penalty over. Ramblers with not much happening there.

8:35 p.m. -- Amherst with another man advantage thanks to good forechecking from the Bissonnette-O'Byrne-Carson unit, as Bissonnette is tripped up by Sam Caldwell at 10:09.

8:37 p.m. -- Pace has slowed down quite a bit from the first period.

8:38 p.m. -- Penalty over. Back-to-back chances with little sustained pressure from Amherst.

8:40 p.m. -- 5:34 left in the period. Shots 4-4 in the frame.

8:43 p.m. -- Derek Smith caught on a pinch-in and it results on a two-on-one the other way. Eric Boudreau with good hustle to slow Cole Hawes down and disrupt his centering pass long enough for Waye to slide across and make the save.

8:46 p.m. -- Ramblers running around in their own end again. Fourth line for Amherst out there too long, and Truro dominated five-on-five play.

8:47 p.m. -- In the final minute.

8:48 p.m. -- Ramblers have taken the lead. Drew McLaughlin's point shot pinballs around a maze of bodies in the crease. Rafuse makes the first save and the second, but Shane O'Byrne is left unchecked and lifts a rebound over a prone Rafuse with 40.8 seconds left in the frame. Assists to Scott Bragg and Kodi Estey. 2-1 Ramblers.

8:49 p.m. -- Period over. Shots 12-7 Amherst in the period (with a lot of the Ramblers' shots coming late), 21-16 Ramblers through two.

After 40 minutes -- Truro carried the play for most of this period after getting the early power-play chances, but the Ramblers had the late flurry and a big goal from an unexpected source in O'Byrne. Stay out of the box, and two points are within Amherst's grasp.

9:04 p.m. -- Third period underway.

9:06 p.m. -- Ramblers might have something here in the Orr-Bragg-Estey unit. They've seen a lot of ice tonight and been arguably better than the first line of Matthews-Barron-Chipman.

9:07 p.m. -- Point shot from Truro ends up skimming past the top of the net. Bearcats pressing early for the tying goal, and it's too early to retreat into full prevent defence mode for Amherst just yet.

9:09 p.m. -- Bearcats benefit from a missed offside call and almost score, as Jordan Mock can't corral a loose puck at the side of the Amherst net.

9:11 p.m. -- Truro ties it on a weak goal. Sam Caldwell's harmless-looking point shot gets redirected by Andrew Harmes past Waye at 4:32. Assists to Brett Frazee and Caldwell. A real deflating goal that Amherst has to recover quickly from. 2-2

9:13 p.m. -- Bearcats all over Amherst now. Shots 8-0 Truro in the period.

9:14 p.m. -- More good work from the Orr-Bragg-Estey line, as Bragg makes a nifty dangle and is slashed on the way by by Donnie Churchill. He's off at 6:51.

9:16 p.m. -- Ramblers aren't moving their feet in the Truro zone on this PP and are just hovering around the perimeter.

9:17 p.m. -- Penalty over.

9:17 p.m. -- O'Byrne and Bissonnette trying to re-energize the Ramblers with a big hit near the Truro bench. That line stays out there and continues a good shift by crashing the crease and forcing Rafuse to cover up.

9:20 p.m. -- Big shift from Eric Boudreau, an end-to-end rush for a shot on goal, then a furious backcheck to slam Shawn Wright into the boards in the Amherst zone. Wright felt that one, skating slowly off to his team's bench.

9:21 p.m. -- 7:50 left. Faceoff to Rafuse's right. Shots 9-4 Truro in the period.

9:23 p.m -- Derek Smith called for tripping with 6:40 to go. Truro on the PP.

9:25 p.m. -- Bearcats missing more than they're hitting on their point shots. Ramblers have killed it.

9:27 p.m. -- Ramblers running out of gas out there. Need to pick up the pace.

9:28 p.m. -- Three minutes left in the third.

9:28 p.m. -- Waye flicks out the right pad for a game-saver, robbing a pinching Sam Caldwell trying to sneak in the back door.

9:30 p.m. -- Final minute.

9:30 p.m. -- Dana Fraser with a tremendous individual effort to give Truro the lead. Fends off a Rambler defender, and with one hand, steers the puck across the crease and makes Waye commit, going upstairs with 32.5 seconds left. Assist to Eric Louis-Seize. 3-2 Bearcats

9:31 p.m. -- Ramblers call timeout.

9:32 p.m. -- Amherst ices the puck on a stretch pass attempt. Waye back in with 6.5 seconds left.

9:33 p.m. -- Scott Bragg gets one last rush in the dying seconds off a long pass, but Rafuse stops him at the buzzer, and Truro wins it. Shots 13-6 Truro in the third, 29-27 Bearcats for the game.

Three stars -- 1. Dana Fraser, Truro; 2. Jon Waye, Amherst; 3. Ben MacAskill, Truro.

Final thoughts -- A gut-wrenching loss for the Ramblers, who have now dropped six of their last eight and five straight on the road against Bent Division teams. Can't fault the effort, as playing Truro seems to bring out the best in the bordertowners in terms of determination and work ethic. In the end, a dominant offensive player was there when his team needed him the most, which is the most glaring difference between these clubs.

Kodi Estey, on his new linemates -- "Kody is one of the best players in the league, and Scott usually gets the puck for me. I'm just glad to move up a bit and get more ice time."

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Bent Division, Maritime Junior A Hockey League

Geographic location: Amherst, Colchester Legion Stadium

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