Ramblers show they’re in the series

Crushers take opener with double overtime win


Published on March 17, 2017

Grant Janes (2) scored for the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers in their 5-4 double overtime loss to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers in MHL playoff action on Thursday night in New Glasgow. Game 2 in the series is Saturday at the Amherst Stadium at 7 p.m.

©Gary Boudreau Photography

AMHERST, ,N.S. – Any playoff loss is difficult, but Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach Jeff LeBlanc said it shows his team is in the series.

The Ramblers are practicing in Sackville, N.B. today (Friday) after a tough 5-4 double overtime loss in New Glasgow last night to the defending league champion Pictou County Weeks Crushers.

I thought our guys did a great job keeping their composure in an overtime game and did a great job keeping their composure after the overtime loss. Jeff LeBlanc, coach and GM of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers

Game 2 in the best-of-seven Eastlink Division South series goes Saturday night at the Amherst Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.

“I thought we played very well, it was one of our better games of the year. The guys really battled and I think we blocked more shots last night than we did all season. They really paid the price. Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted,” LeBlanc said, adding it was one of the top five games he’s ever coached. “Saying that, though, it sent a message to the naysayers that we’re in this series and this Amherst team might give them a go.”

The Ramblers battled from behind twice before taking a 4-3 lead in the third period on a goal by Matt Sartoris.

Amherst played a perfect defensive game until the last minute, when with the goalie on the bench for an extra attacker, Bradley Kennedy scored to force overtime.

Despite killing off two penalties in the extra periods, the Ramblers just couldn’t beat Daniel Vautour for the winner. Instead, it was Dylan Riley of the Crushers who scored on a bit of a knuckle-puck that eluded Daryl MacCallum to give Pictou County the 1-0 series lead.

“I thought our guys did a great job keeping their composure in an overtime game and did a great job keeping their composure after the overtime loss,” LeBlanc said. “Everyone was disappointed but I heard a lot of leaders saying we know we can play with them.”

Michael Dill and Matt Cusson traded first period goals while Ethan Marsh scored twice in the second period for the Crushers and Grant Janes replied for the Ramblers.

Sartoris and Julian Makary scored for the Ramblers in the third with Kennedy scoring for the Crushers with 29 seconds left.
“It really is a game of inches,” LeBlanc said. “On the tying goal their defenceman kept it with a skate blade and our guy got there a tenth of a second too late.”

Heading into the second game in the series, LeBlanc said he wants  his players to keep doing what they’re doing. He said the key may be the seventh man, the fans. Knowing how loud the Amherst Stadium can be, the Ramblers’ coach is urging fans to come out to the rink to support the club.

“We’re the only team in the league that didn’t raise ticket prices for the playoffs and we did that for a reason, we want to pack that place. We want to have that seventh man,” he said. “I know it’s a cliché in sports, but it’s true. We want that seventh man because it can be so intimidating and the Jungle hasn’t really been the Jungle for a long time. We’re hoping it comes alive there Saturday night.”

In other games last night, Truro took the opening game of their series with a 5-2 win over the Yarmouth Mariners at the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre in Truro while in Summerside, the Dieppe Commandos evened their series with the Western Capitals with a 2-1 win.

The series between the St. Stephen Aces and Miramichi Timberwolves starts on Saturday at the Miramichi Civic Centre.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell