Crushers open Eastlink Division semifinal Thursday night against Amherst
NEW GLASGOW – The Weeks Crushers’ recent haircuts are just another sign that they’re all buying into the team’s focus of winning a Kent Cup this season.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Weeks Crushers forward Jordan McInnis fights along the boards for puck possession during a regular season game against the Amherst Ramblers. McInnis, in his final year with the Crushers, believes the team learned a lot from the playoffs last year and hopes they make a long run this season.
Call it a mohawk, fauxhawk or simply a bad haircut, but the boys are using it as another way to come closer together as they start their playoff run tonight against the Amherst Ramblers.
“You don't want to have a stupid haircut for a week, you want to make this a lengthy one,” said Crushers assistant captain Jordan McInnis. “If everyone buys in (on the ice) and is ready to go this will just be another way to show we’re together in this a little bit more.”
When the puck drops tonight haircut style points won’t count and neither will the regular season standings or the fact Pictou County has a 6-1-1 record against the Ramblers this season. It’s a fresh start and every shift matters according to McInnis.
“Every game is a battle, every shift and every part of the game means something down the stretch,” he said. “Everything is important no matter how big or how small.
“It’s a new season and everyone steps their game up this time of year, so we put that behind us and we go out like it’s a fresh start.”
Over the last week the main focus for the team has been their systems, trying to match what Amherst will bring to the table this week. McInnis said they also need to be mentally ready for what they expect to be a grueling series.
“We want to definitely use our speed because they’re a bigger, slower team so we want to get in behind them and not let them dominate us down low with their big bodies,” he said. “We’ll have to battle hard in the corners and try to win as many puck battles as we can. Puck movement will also be key. You’ve got to move the puck well to win games.”
Coming off their eighth meeting of the season just a week ago and a 4-0 win over the Ramblers, McInnis said he hopes that game set the tone for the series. He added that he doesn’t believe the rivalry comes from playing Amherst a lot in the regular season, rather that it’s how the teams match up on the ice.
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“I don’t know if that adds to it, but I know over the last couple of years that I’ve been here we’ve always had tough games against Amherst,” he said. “It’s always been fun going into their rink and them coming to ours. We always know they’re going to bring a big physical game and we love play against those kind of teams I guess. We always get up for them.
“Obviously we knew we were playing them for a few weeks now, so we wanted to go out there (last Thursday) and make sure they knew we were bringing business to set the tone for the next few weeks.”
Being a member of the team last year, losing in Game 7 of their division semifinal to Truro after leading the series, McInnis said he felt they took the pressure off and that they know better this time around.
“I felt like we got up on them and eased off the pedal and gave Truro some life,” he said. “That seemed to be the downfall at the end of it. This year if we have a team down (in the series) we know what we need to do to finish them off.”
Looking back to last week’s game, which drew the largest attendance of the season for Pictou County (1,136), McInnis said having an atmosphere like that is an amazing feeling and he hopes it continues throughout the playoffs.
“I remember coming in last playoffs and the barn was packed, so it makes it a lot more exciting and a lot more intense,” he said. “I love seeing the barn packed and our crowd get up for it. It’s good to see and we hope it’s like that tomorrow night.”
Brandon Thibeau and Richard Tingley are expected to start in goal.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris