AMHERST, N.S. - For a while it appeared as though the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers were not going to find a way to put a puck by MacKenzie Janes.
The South Shore Lumberjacks goalie, who gave the Ramblers fits in last year’s MHL division semifinal series, looked unbeatable early on – making several spectacular saves – but the Ramblers bounced back, killing off a five-on-three penalty late in the second period and early in the third en route to a 4-2 win in MHL action on Friday night.
“I thought we played really well. We played a full 60 minutes and even though we had some adversity at times we found a way to win,” Ramblers coach and GM Jeff LeBlanc said. “We just couldn’t seem to get a puck by Janes and we had a couple of calls not go our way, but the guys kept plugging and they worked hard. That’s what I like to see. When we use our speed like we did tonight we’re going to be hard to play against.”
The Ramblers are back in action on Saturday when they host the St. Stephen Aces at 7 p.m.
Christian Tsukamoto had the lone goal of the first period when his low shot from the left side eluded Matt Williams.
Cole Darrach finally tied things up when he walked out of the corner from the right face-off circle and fired a shot at Janes that seemed to fool the South Shore goalie or deflected off a defenceman.
Rothesay-Netherwood defenceman Nick Youill, playing in his first MHL game, earned an assist on the goal.
“I thought he played really well as an affiliated player and I thought Dawson Grenier had his best game of the season,” LeBlanc said. “He really stepped it up, knowing we were shorthanded on defence.”
Darrach, with his fourth goal of the season, gave the Ramblers a 2-1 lead later in the second when, short-handed, he pressured the Lumberjacks’ defenceman, stole the puck and beat Janes on a partial breakway.
With both Caleb Rich and Casey Fox in the box for a full two-minute five-on-three, the Lumberjacks couldn’t seem to get their power play clicking, but just as the penalties expired Cody Grant tied things up when he backhanded a rebound into the net.
Jacob Myra scored what proved to be the game-winner when at the end of a high-energy shift he put a rebound past Janes while Dawson Grenier added some insurance later in the period when he stepped into a loose puck at the top of the slot, but fanned on the puck and fired a bit of a knuckleball past Janes to give the Ramblers a two-goal advantage.
South Shore came close in the final moments of the game when Tsukamoto hit the post and had the puck lying at the feet of Williams, but none of the Lumberjacks could get to the puck.
Amherst was without defencemen Thomas Ashe, Matt Sartoris and Linden Namagoose while forward Stephen Fox also didn’t play.
“One thing I’ve noticed with our team this year is they don’t panic. I know it’s only six games in and there’s a long way to go, but the guys didn’t collapse when they could have during that five-on-three and they responded well,” LeBlanc said.
After Saturday, the Ramblers are in New Glasgow the MHL Showcase playing Campbellton on Monday and the Miramichi Timberwolves on Tuesday. Amherst is in Bridgewater to face the Lumberjacks on Friday before returning home next Saturday to face the Valley Wildcats.