AMHERST – The job just got tougher, but Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach and general manager Jeff LeBlanc says winning the Eastlink South Division regular season banner is still his team’s goal.
Coming off a pair of losses last weekend to the South Shore Lumberjacks and the Truro Bearcats, getting outscored 11-2, the Ramblers return to action on Saturday when they end their five-game homestand against the St. Stephen County Aces – a team that has given the Ramblers fits over the past three years.
“Our goal hasn’t changed, we still want to win first place in the division. We fell back a little bit last weekend but there’s still 14 games left,” LeBlanc said Wednesday night. “When you look back at the month of January we had a great month. Last weekend was one weekend out of an entire season. Our group has already moved passed it.”
On Sunday, goalie Oliver Troop struggled giving up seven goals on 22 shots as the Bearcats got seven goals from seven different players in a 7-1 win. A night earlier, Amherst outshot the South Shore Lumberjacks 44-34 but could only get one goal by MacKenzie Janes in a 4-1 setback.
LeBlanc said he’s optimistic his team will start scoring again after only scoring twice last weekend, but overall, he said, the team had a strong month offensively in January and two games shouldn’t be used to judge how the team played over the past 31 days.
While the Aces sit in dead last in the league standings with a 9-27-0-1 record, two of its wins have come against the Ramblers – including a 5-4 shootout win on Sept. 30 and a 2-0 win during the showcase in Summerside.
The Ramblers won the last time the two teams met, a 4-3 win in Amherst on Dec. 2.
“When you look at the wins they have this season they have come against some of the league’s best teams,” LeBlanc said. “We’re a much different team than we were at the first of the season, but we’re not about to take them lightly. You can’t take anyone lightly in this league. Every game is important and we’re fighting for first place.”
Next weekend the Ramblers face their biggest test of the season hitting the road for three games, including a stop in Bridgewater to face the Lumberjacks on Friday and back-to-back games at the Mariners Centre on Saturday and Sunday.