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Ramblers clinch playoff spot with win over Crushers

Jacob Hickey of the Pictou County Weeks Crushers chases Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers forward Brock McEwen in MHL action in Pictou County on Thursday night. The Ramblers won the game 4-2 to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastlink South Division.
Jacob Hickey of the Pictou County Weeks Crushers chases Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers forward Brock McEwen in MHL action in Pictou County on Thursday night. The Ramblers won the game 4-2 to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastlink South Division. - Kevin Adshade

Amherst hosts Valley Wildcats on Saturday

AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers are going back to the playoffs.

The Ramblers doubled the Pictou County Weeks Crushers 4-2 in Maritime Junior Hockey League action on Thursday in New Glasgow, clinching their second consecutive trip to the post-season dance.

“It was a bit of weird game. I don’t think we played that great, but we played well enough to win and a win is a win anytime during the season,” Ramblers coach and GM Jeff LeBlanc said.

Liam Conrad scored a pair of goals and Jordan King and Will Bower each added single markers for the Rambles while King and Will Lafford each had two assists and Dawson Grenier, Bradley Dawe, Layton Parsons and Conrad each had single assists.

Marc Gagnon and Alex Bonaparte scored for the Crushers.

“Only two-thirds of the teams make the playoffs in this league so it’s an accomplishment,” LeBlanc said. “When I came here my goal was to make this team a consistent playoff team and with the win last night we’ve given ourselves a chance to win a championship.”

The Ramblers are back on home ice on Saturday when the host the Valley Wildcats at 7 p.m.

 “We want to continue playing the way we’ve been playing. Last weekend we played really well and took five out of six points. We played playoff hockey. We have to continue playing that way this weekend,” LeBlanc said.

Last weekend, in a pair of wins over Woodstock and Miramichi and an overtime loss to Truro, the Ramblers found their offence – scoring seven times against the Slammers and adding five more against the Timberwolves while losing 3-2 in Truro in a game that saw the Ramblers rally from a 2-0 third period deficit to force overtime before losing in the shootout.

LeBlanc said the priority is getting that one point this weekend to clinch the playoff spot and while his team is playing well right now he doesn’t place too much stock in momentum entering the playoffs.

“Last year I think we lost three of the last five going into the playoffs. You have to realize the playoffs is a new season and what you do in the regular season doesn’t matter when the puck drops in the playoffs,” he said. “What I’m looking for is our power play and penalty kill to get better and being at peak form and healthy when the playoffs start.”

The Ramblers did receive some bad news earlier this week when it was announced that goalie Cody Porter will be out of the lineup the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury suffered in January.

LeBlanc said the team has every confidence in goalie Joel Goguen and his backup Oliver Troop. Goguen has a 12-3-7 record with a 2.44 goals against average and .923 save percentage in 22 games.

“Joel’s been doing the job all year. I like that way he prepares and battles,” LeBlanc said. “He has been getting better all year and will be in peak form come playoff time. I can’t go back over the 22 games he’s played this year and said that was a stinker. He’s been very consistent for us.”

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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