Crushers facing uphill climb in division final

Christopher Cameron
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Pictou County trails Truro 2-0 going into Game 3 tonight

NEW GLASGOW – The current playoff situation wasn’t expected – the Weeks Crushers thought things would be more even.

Weeks Crushers forward Brandon Parsons puts a shot on Truro Bearcats goalie Chris Festarini during Game 1 of the Eastlink Division final between the two teams. Through two games Truro leads the series 2-0. 

During their six regular season meetings with the Truro Bearcats they won three and lost three. Neither team won by more than three goals. Truro won 5-2 on Jan. 18, while Pictou County won 3-0 on Dec. 19 and 4-1 on Feb. 1.

It makes their two losses to the Bearcats so far in the Eastlink Division final, 6-2 and 7-2, that much more shocking.

Captain Nick Parker said they will be better in Game 3 tonight in Truro.

“It just comes down to how bad we want it,” said Parker. “With them beating us in seven (games) last year there are a lot of guys on our team that were here for that and we went a year without forgetting it. We have our chance now. We want to win it so bad that when we’re down a goal or two like in the first two games it caused us to get away from our game plan and it doesn’t help anyone.”

He gave some credit the Bearcat’s play through two games, but said part of the issue has been them making it easy for Truro.

“I wouldn’t say skating circles around us, but both games they scored a quick goal and it seemed to take some wind out of our sails right away,” he said about their recent lopsided losses to the Bearcats. “They managed to follow it up with another quick goal and like I said, being down 2-0 in a game where it’s basically a must-win – in the playoffs you want to win them all – you start changing your game plan and get away from doing the little things.

“It hurt us, so that’s what we’re going to try to change for tomorrow. No matter what the score is or no matter what we do we want to go in with a game plan and follow it for 60 minutes.”

Thursday night in Truro the Bearcats led 2-0 after the first period and 4-0 after two. In the third the Crushers closed the gap to two with goals from Garrett Lambke and Parker, but after Tyler Morrison and Jordan Wentzell made it 6-2 the wheels came off.

In the game Pictou County had 67 penalty minutes, 55 of which were in the third period. Of those 55, there were 41 minutes after Wentzell’s goal. Further, of those 41, Mitchell Shewfelt was given 15 of those for charging Truro’s goalie Chris Festarini. For that charge, Shewfelt has also been suspended three games.

Parker said frustration set in and emotions got the best of the team.

“Being down 2-0 in any playoff series puts guys in a tough spot and we just got away from our game plan in the second once we got down 2-0 and it didn’t help us at all,” said Parker. “Towards the end of the game emotions were running high and a lot of emotion came into it. A lot of things came out that certainly aren’t what our players and organization are about or believes in. It just came down to emotions boiling over.”

With just 2:57 Kyle Tibbo made it 7-2 on the power play for the Bearcats, who had only 16 penalty minutes in the game. They were 2-11 on the man advantage, while Pictou County was 0-3.

After the game the team discussion didn’t change from what they discussed on Wednesday after their opening loss.

“That’s a good team over there and for us to win we need to do the little things, get pucks on net,” he said. “They’ve got a good goalie, good defence and good forwards, so we’ve got to find a way to out compete them and out work them in every area of the ice. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to beat them is if we do that stuff.”

Tonight’s game is being played when it was originally scheduled to be, although Tuesday’s opening game was moved to Thursday due to weather. That set up back-to-back home games for the Bearcats, but Parker said that the team isn’t discussing it and that it’s a non-issue.

“We’ve won games there in their rink and we’ve won games in our rink, so I don’t think there will be any excuse or us trying to make any excuses for two games in a row being in Truro,” he said.

On Friday afternoon Parker said he wasn’t sure if the Crushers would have Brandon Thibeau back in goal as he was sick on Thursday. With Thibeau out Tyler Doyle was able to come in and play his first game of the series.

Although that shuffled things up in Game 2 he also expects their line combinations could change tonight to try and get more chemistry.

“It’s a long series and then when you get down 2-0 you need to mix something up, so any line combinations that go out there - in playoffs it shouldn’t matter who you’re playing with – you just need to go out and give 110 per cent with whoever you get put with and just do your job,” he said. “If everyone else does that then it doesn’t matter who’s on the ice because good things will happen.”

Organizations: Eastlink Division

Geographic location: Truro, Pictou County

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