AMHERST, N.S. – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers have one chance for redemption at the Fred Page Cup in Amherst.
The chance comes after losing Game 7 in double-overtime to the South Shore Lumberjacks in the first round of the Maritime Hockey League playoffs.
“We’ve been given a second chance, and every other team in Eastern Canada doesn’t get that luxury,” said Jeff LeBlanc, Ramblers coach and general manager. “Fortunately for us we’ve been given that other opportunity. We wasted one chance by going out in the first round of the playoffs, we can’t waste the next one.”
The Fred Page Cup runs May 1 to 5 at Amherst Stadium, and as hosts of the Eastern Canadian Junior Championship the Ramblers automatically get a second chance.
After losing to the Lumberjacks on March 27, the players took time off but are now training on and off the ice in preparation for the May 1 start.
“We’re working hard and trying to be the best in-shape team in the tournament because in that tournament you could easily play five games in five nights,” said LeBlanc.
Getting bounced from the playoffs does have silver linings.
“We had two injuries in Game 7 against South Shore. If we would have played another series there’s a good chance neither of those kids would have been able to play,” said LeBlanc. “With us having four weeks off it gives them the chance to heal up and come back and be fresh and ready to go when the Fred Page starts.”
The loss also provides incentive to achieve peak performance at the Fred Page Cup.
“We were all very disappointed and we’re over it but, at the same time, you don’t want to be over it too much,” said LeBlanc. “We have to take that feeling that we had in Game 7 after losing and try not to have it happen again.”
Game 7 against South Shore was action packed, with the Ramblers hitting several posts during the double-overtime.
“In that short amount of time we hit two crossbars and a post. An inch lower or an inch more to the left and the game’s over,” said LeBlanc. “If you paid $8 to watch that hockey game, you got $20 worth of hockey because it was a hell of a hockey game.”
He says the Ramblers made mistakes during the series against the Lumberjacks, mistakes they will have to eliminate at the Fred Page Cup.
“I thought we gave South Shore a lot of goals in that series by mistakes and we can’t have that at the Fred Page,” said LeBlanc. “If you make mistakes like that you won’t win. The games will come down to who makes the least number of mistakes.”
The Ramblers first game at the Fred Page Cup is against the winners of the Central Canada Hockey League on May 1 at 7:30 p.m.