Learning lessons before the playoffs

Christopher Cameron
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Crushers goal greater than finishing first in the regular season

NEW GLASGOW – A pair of losses after winning four straight isn’t worth panicking about according to Weeks Crushers captain Nick Parker.

Weeks Crushers forward JP Harvey cuts around the Summerside Western Capitals net during MHL action Saturday night at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. Harvey and the Crushers fell 5-3 to the Capitals. 

The losses have hurt their chances of catching the Truro Bearcats for first place in the Eastlink Division heading into the playoffs, as they took a five-point lead on the Crushers with a win Sunday over the Valley Wildcats, but it’s of no concern to Parker.

He said there’s nothing they can do but focus on themselves and they can’t worry about whether Truro will lose a few of their four remaining games.

“Right now, to be honest, I don’t think we care,” he said. “Our goal isn’t to finish first or second because we have bigger goals than that. Home ice advantage is great, but regardless of if we have it we need to be able to get by any team in the end. Our goal is more than finishing first after the regular season. We want to win the Kent Cup, so that will mean beating whoever we’re up against each round.”

Friday night the Crushers were up 3-0 over the Mariners in Yarmouth just 3:55 into the second, with goals by Mitchell Shewfelt, Brandon Parsons and Tyler Doyle. They then gave up four unanswered goals, two in the second and two in the third, to lose 4-3 and end their win streak.

“I don’t think it was so much something we did after getting the lead because I felt we played a good game in their rink,” said Parker. “Their fans are pretty into it and after they get one goal the fans get them going. Every time we play there they seem to score in bunches and we had to be more ready for that than we were. They scored one and then them seemed to score in bunches. We couldn’t shut that down and turn it around.”

Pictou County was then home for an unusual Saturday night home game, hosting the Summerside Western Capitals, who they beat 3-2 Monday on the road to start the week.

In opposite fashion of their prior two games, the Crushers had a slow start with the Capitals’ Blaize Bridges scoring just 1:18 into the game. Maxim Pitre added another for Summerside at the 8:42 mark to give the Caps a 2-0 lead after the first.

Parker scored 27 seconds into the second to cut the lead to one, but Joey Colatarci reinstated Summerside’s lead midway through the second.

Former Caps forward JP Harvey scored with six seconds remaining in the period to cut the lead to 3-2 after two.

In the third, two goals in nine seconds by Summerside’s Cavan Fitzgerald and Isaac Jay at the 17-minute mark of the period sealed the win for the Capitals who went on to win 5-3 as Crushers forward Brandon Parsons scored with 1:16 left in the game.

Brandon Thibeau made 25 saves in the loss, while Alex Kelly made 38 in the Caps victory.

“I think Saturday we did some things right and there are some positives to take out of the game, but we didn’t seem to be getting bounces like we normally do,” said Parker. “We put lots of pucks on their goalie, who made lots of saves. We hit lots of posts and just weren’t getting the bounces. It was our fourth game in six nights, so it was just one of those games where the bounces don’t go your way.”

“Our goal is more than finishing first after the regular season. We want to win the Kent Cup, so that will mean beating whoever we’re up against each round.” Crushers captain Nick Parker

This week, and leading into the postseason, the Crushers focus will be on cutting their mistakes out of their game and focusing on the details according to Parker. He said improving every day in games and practice will be crucial in their final two weeks.

“It’s not like we can turn a switch in the first game of the playoffs and eliminate mistakes in our game,” he said. “We have two weeks to do it (eliminate mistakes) and want to focus on that stuff to be as prepared as we can possibly be.

“Every team will go through adversity and we’re not scared of that. Look at Olympics where the U.S. breezed through the round-robin, but couldn’t score a goal in the medal round. We want to go through that (adversity) now and find out the kinks in our game to get rid of them before playoffs. As long as we’re working on that and improving every day that’s what we need to worry about right now.”

 

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Organizations: Capitals, Eastlink Division, Mariners

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Pictou County, U.S.

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