AMHERST – As is often the case in the game of hockey, it came down to the final game of the regular season.
The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers needed a win over the Pictou County Weeks Crushers at home Saturday night to secure second place in the Eastlink South Division, and gain home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the South Shore Lumberjacks.
Unfortunately, the Ramblers lacked the edge they needed against the Crushers and lost 7-2.
Jake Barter and Layton Parsons score the only Ramblers goals in the loss.
Barter scored the first goal of the night at 9:15 into the first period off passes from Bradley Dawe and Layton Parsons.
Down 5-1, Parsons scored 12 minutes into the second period with assists from Jordan King and Brady Griffin-Hefford.
The Ramblers outshot the Crushers 35-34.
Game attendance was 560.
Ramblers vs. Bearcats
The Ramblers beat the Bearcats Friday night in Truro, with one goal and two assists from King, one goal and one assist from Liam Conrad and Brady Griffin-Hefford, and one goal from Layton Parsons.
Ramblers vs. Tigers
The also beat the Tigers 4-2 Wednesday night in Campbellton. King, Will Bower, Felix LeBlanc, and Dawson Grenier scored one goal each for the Ramblers.
Lumberjacks final three games
The Lumberjacks won their final three games of the season to catch the Ramblers and gain home-ice advantage.
They beat the Valley Wildcats 6-2 on Thursday, the Yarmouth Mariners 5-2 on Friday, and the Valley Wildcats 4-2, Saturday night.
The Ramblers and Lumberjacks have been fairly evenly matched against each other this season.
The Ramblers and the Lumberjacks both finished the regular season with 66 points. The Ramblers ended up with a record of 27-11-6-6 (wins, losses, OTL, SOL), and the Lumberjacks ended their season with a record of 33-16-1-0.
They went 3-3 against each other this season
Amherst and South Shore met six times this season, and each team won three games. The Ramblers were outscored 23-18 in those six games.
On Oct. 27, the Ramblers lost 5-2 in Bridgewater at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre.
On Oct. 28, the Ramblers beat the Lumberjacks 7-4 at Amherst Stadium.
On Dec. 1, the Ramblers had a 4-3 shootout win in Bridgewater.
On Jan. 6, the Ramblers beat South Shore 2-1 at Amherst Stadium.
On Jan. 27, the Ramblers lost 4-1 to South Shore at Amherst Stadium.
On Feb. 8, the Ramblers lost 5-2 in Bridgewater.
They both have three players in the top-25
Both teams have three players on the top-25 Maritime Hockey League point board.
Amherst has Jordan King, third, with 78 points, 28 goals and 50 assists in 50 games; Brady Griffin-Hefford, ninth, 57 points, 25 goals and 32 assists in 48 games; and Liam Conrad, 19th, with 47 points, 23 goals and 24 assists in 46 games.
South Shore has Logan O’Neil, 10th, with 55 points, 26 goals and 29 assists in 49 games; Mateo Short, 11th, with 54 points, 31 goals and 23 assists in 47 games; and Adam Crowe, 23rd with 44 points, 22 goals and 22 assists in 47 games.
Attendance was much the same in Amherst and Bridgewater
Both teams had close to the same number of fans during the regular season this year.
A total of 16,608 people attended the Ramblers 25 home games this season, for an average of 664 per game. South Shore attracted 17,158, for an average of 686 per home game. (The Edmundston Blizzard dominated the MHL in their first season in the league with 50,089 on the season, for an average of 2,087 per home game)
The Eastlink South best-of-seven, first-round playoff schedule between Amherst and South Shore is as follows: (all games start at 7 p.m.)
Wednesday March 14, in Bridgewater
Saturday, March 17, in Amherst
Monday, March 19, in Bridgewater
Wednesday, March 21, in Amherst
Friday, March 23, in Bridgewater (if necessary)
Sunday, March 25, in Amherst (if necessary)
Monday, March 26, in Bridgewater (if necessary)