AMHERST, N.S. – After faltering in their first two games against the South Shore Lumberjacks, the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers are back on track after beating South Shore 5-2 Tuesday night at Amherst Stadium.
“Getting off to a good start was key,” said Jeff LeBlanc, Ramblers coach and general manager. “That was one thing we stressed for the last two days, is we need a better first period and we need a solid 60 minutes from start to finish, and I thought the boys came out on fire.”
The Ramblers scored four goals by the 13:27 mark of the first period and allowed only one goal.
South Shore made it a 4-2 game early in the second period, but the Ramblers made it 5-2 by 5:45 into the second frame.
Three Ramblers goals and two assists were scored by Matt Green.
“He played like our best player, and he is,” said LeBlanc. “He is our best player and he played like it tonight.”
Green was on a new line Tuesday night with Will Lafford and Casey Fox, and they were in on all five Ramblers goals, combining for 12 points, five goals and seven assists.
“We put that line together just yesterday,” said LeBlanc. “We thought we needed a little bit of a spark, and a little bit of a different look.”
After losing the first two games of the series in double-overtime by scores of 6-5 and 3-2, the Ramblers went into the game down 2-0 in the Maritime Hockey League Eastlink South Division series
“I thought the first game we were nervous, and I thought the second game we were just ok,” said LeBlanc. “But tonight we played playoff hockey. We were blocking shots, doing the little things, and making sacrifices.”
He says they also made adaptations on defence.
“Our D did a phenomenal job of moving the puck up and getting it out of our end, and when we don’t play in our own end we’re successful because we’ve got some goal-scorers who can put the puck in the net.”
And he says the entire team helped shut down the Lumberjacks.
“They did have some scoring chances but it wasn’t a lot, and to give that team only two goals is good because they scored more goals this year than we did.”
The Ramblers hope to tie the series up 2-2 Thursday night in Bridgewater.
“We played really well tonight but at the same time we dug ourselves a hole we’re still not out of,” said LeBlanc. “We have to go down there Thursday night and have another effort like we had tonight.”
He says it’s important to get home-ice advantage back.
“We worked hard for home-ice advantage this year with 36 wins and we want to get that back, and the only way we can get that back is if we win the next game.”
Besides Green’s three goals and two assists, Lafford scored one goal and three assists, and Casey Fox had one goal and two assists.
Alex Wynter and Bradley Dawe added one assist each.
Matt Williams stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced, and his teammates had 48 shots on Lumberjacks goaltender Ty Grant.
Game attendance was 1,088.
Game 4, is Thursday in Bridgewater.
Game 5, is Saturday in Amherst.
Game 6, if necessary, is Monday in Bridgewater.
Game 7, if necessary, is next Wednesday at Amherst Stadium.
All games start at 7 p.m.