AMHERST, N.S. – Cole Waugh scored two goals, including the game winner, to lead the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers to a 5-3 win over the Yarmouth Mariners Thursday night at Amherst Stadium.
“Nick Snow made a nice play to get out of the zone and he dropped the puck to me in the slot and I put my head down and shot it through the crowd and it went in,” said Waugh about the game-winning goal. “It’s nice to get the first win of the Fred Page out of the way, and now we’re going keep rolling from here.”
Waugh also scored 18 seconds into the game, and Casey Fox added two goals in the second period, giving the Ramblers a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.
The Mariners battled back, and tied it up 3-3 with 5:15 left the game.
Waugh then put the Ramblers up 4-3 with 1:33 left in the game, and Matt Green scored into an empty net with six seconds left in the game.
Matt Williams played in net for the Ramblers and Tyler Caseley for the Mariners.
The Mariners outshot the Ramblers 45 to 36.
“It was a huge win,” said Jeff LeBlanc, Ramblers coach and general manager.
“You never want to give up a three-goal lead in the third period but, you know what, these kids have been resilient all year. It’s a hell of a group of kids, and they didn’t quit,” he added. “They could have very easily packed it up and quit, but they didn’t quit. They played right to the last second.”
He was happy to see Waugh score the game winner.
“I’m on Cole quite a bit about shooting the puck because he has a tendency not to use his great shot and to maybe overpass sometimes,” said LeBlanc. “He didn’t do that tonight. He shot the puck when he had opportunities to shoot the puck.”
LeBlanc says Waugh has one of the best shots on the team.
“That’s why we want him to shoot the puck because of nights like tonight where, if he does, they’re going to go in, and they did tonight. He got two big goals.”
The Mariners went into the tournament as the MHL champions but, with the loss, they have no path to the Fred Page Cup championship game.
LeBlanc gives credit to Yarmouth for coming back Thursday night, adding he has a lot of respect for Laurie Barron, Mariners coach and general manager.
“Laurie is a class act, and they had an unbelievable season. Winning an MHL championship is not easy to do,” said LeBlanc. “You can see how good they are. They didn’t quit, they’re not a quitting team. They played hard right to the end, and that’s what I expect from an LB coached team.”
With the win, the Ramblers are guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s semi-final game.
“We’ve made the semi-finals, that’s all we’ve done here,” said LeBlanc. “We need to give ourselves a chance tomorrow and we need to give ourselves a chance on Saturday to be able to play for an Eastern Canadian Junior A championship.”
On Friday, Yarmouth plays the Ottawa Jr. A Senators at 3 p.m., and the Ramblers play the Princeville Titan at 7:30 p.m.
If Ottawa loses to Yarmouth and the Ramblers beat the Titan, the Ramblers leap over Saturday’s semi-final and go directly to Sunday’s final. If Ottawa beats Yarmouth, then the Ramblers will have to play in Saturday’s semi-final game.
“We have to sit back and see what happens in the game between Ottawa and Yarmouth,” said LeBlanc.
“If Ottawa wins that game we don’t have any chance of getting first, so we’re going to make a judgement call after that game’s over to see what we want to do as far as a lineup goes,” he added. “If the game is a nothing game we’re probably going to rest some guys and get them ready for the semi-final. So we’ll see how the game goes tomorrow afternoon and then make some calls after that.”
Attendance at Thursday’s game was 1,250, and if the Ramblers do play Saturday, LeBlanc hopes to see a big crowd at the game.
“In my opinion, we have the most passionate fans in the league and we need them Saturday night. We need them behind us, and we need them behind us for 60 minutes,” said LeBlanc. “We hope to have a packed barn. We hope to see 2,000 people-plus here on Saturday to give that seventh player to these kids who worked all year and worked very, very hard over the past 30 days. We hope the fans are behind us for the full 60 minutes because those kids deserve it.”
Game Summary (Courtesty of James Faulkner, director of communications for the Maritime Hockey League)
The Ramblers wasted no time getting on the board. Cole Waugh beat Mariners goaltender Tyler Caseley just 18 seconds into the 1st period to put Amherst on top 1-0.
Yarmouth would have several good scoring chances, but goaltender Matt Williams made a number of spectacular saves to keep Amherst in the lead.
Shots after the 1st period were 15-14 for the Mariners. The Ramblers would capitalize on their opportunities in the 2nd period with a pair of goals from Casey Fox. His first came at 4:52, and his second at 16:00 on the powerplay. Amherst would be outshot 18-14 in the period, but hold a 3-0 lead.
With their seasons on the line, the Mariners started the comeback.
Brett Crossley scored off a faceoff just 50 seconds into the 3rd period to cut the Amherst lead to 3-1. At 5:21, Cade Neilson found the back of the net for Yarmouth to bring them to within a goal.
They would tie the game at 14:45 as a Landon Quinney one-timer beat Williams. With most of the action in Amherst's end in the 3rd period, the game seemed destined for overtime.
Waugh had other ideas, however, as a shot on goal squeaked through Caseley at 18:27 and Amherst regained the lead 4-3. With the Yarmouth goaltender on the bench, Matt Green finished off the win with an empty net goal to make the final 5-3 for Amherst.
Day three of the Fred Page Cup on Friday at Amherst Stadium, the end of the round robin, will feature Yarmouth against Ottawa at 3 p.m., with Princeville taking on Amherst at 7:30. Princeville sit atop the standings with five points, Ottawa is second with four, Amherst has three, and Yarmouth has zero. The team who finishes first advance directly to the final at 4 p.m. on Sunday, with second and third playing in the semifinal on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The winner of the Fred Page Cup will advance to the National Jr. A Championship in Brooks, Alberta from May 11th to 19th.