NEW GLASGOW – The points may not matter, but setting the tone for next week’s first round of the MHL playoffs does.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Tonight the Weeks Crushers wrap up their regular season at home against the Amherst Ramblers. The two teams will meet again next week in the first round of the MHL playoffs.
“It’s a preview for us for what we’re going to be dealing with in the playoffs, so we’ve started preparing this week for tomorrow (Thursday) and playoffs,” said Weeks Crushers assistant captain Garrett Holmes. “We’re just going to play it like we would a playoff game. We’ve got to start getting our heads into it and getting focused. It’s a big one tomorrow just to get ready and prepared for the week after.”
Tonight Pictou County host the Amherst Ramblers in their final regular season game, while Game 1 of their best-of-seven Eastlink Division semifinal begins just a week later at the Wellness Centre.
This season the Crushers boast a 5-1-1 record against the Ramblers. Four of the seven games were one-goal games. Their goal tonight is to pick up a sixth win against Amherst, although their focus is on ensuring their systems are where they want them to be moving into next week.
“I don’t know if the result matters, but we’re going to play like we would always play in a playoff situation,” he said. “Because everything starts over it doesn’t really matter who you’re playing (in the final regular season game). Our systems will be important, more than the result, but I mean we always want to win even if the points don’t matter.”
Tonight is not only the final regular season game this year, but of junior hockey for 10 members of the Crushers hockey team. Holmes played his entire junior career with the Weeks Hockey Organization, an experience he enjoyed from the beginning.
“It’s been awesome,” said Holmes. “The organization has been great to me. The fans, the community has been awesome, especially being a hometown kid. It means the world to be able to spend my entire junior career here. It’s pretty special.”
The memories have been great thus far for Holmes, but he hopes to add a few more in this final stretch of his junior career, a thought he shares with every 20-year-old on the team.
- Read more special articles:
- Crushers bench boss says series sweep by Bearcats wasn’t expected
- MacLeod has no regrets as junior career ends
- Crushers must win Sunday night to continue season
- Crushers facing uphill climb in division final
“All the 20-year-olds in our dressing room want it (Kent Cup) more than anything, so it’s definitely in the back of our mind that this is our last year,” he said. “It’s definitely a motivating factor that we want to go all the way.”
To start the playoff run the Crushers will have home-ice advantage for finishing second, eight points ahead of third-place Amherst heading into tonight’s game. Should they meet Truro in the division final the Bearcats will have the advantage, but Holmes said they aren’t concerned about that as they focus on their first series.
“Their building is probably the toughest place to play in the league with their fans always into the game,” he said. “Their atmosphere in there can sometimes be overwhelming, so having home ice is definitely a huge advantage.”
Puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Prior to the game the Weeks Hockey Organization will recognize each of the 20-year-old players. Playing their final season with the Crushers are: Evan Carmody, Mitchell Deruelle, Tyler Doyle, JP Harvey, Garrett Holmes, Daniel MacLeod, Jordan McInnis, Nick Parker, David Stephens and Brandon Thibeau.
Goals for: 200
Goals against: 137
Record against Amherst: 5-1-1
Vs. Amherst Ramblers
Goals for: 201
Goals against: 155
Game time: 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre