Crushers advance to division final with Game 7 win

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NEW GLASGOW – A one word tweet by Weeks Crushers head coach Jason Malone best sums up their win Saturday night at home – character.

With their best-of-seven division semifinal series against the Amherst Ramblers needing Game 7, Pictou County prevailed with a 3-2 victory to advance to the next round against the Truro Bearcats. That win, although it was consistent with the home team winning every game of the series, wasn’t a walk in the park.

In the first period neither team scored, but the Crushers had to kill off nearly four straight minutes shorthanded. John Mullally took a hit to the head penalty at the 15:22 mark, before Nick Parker’s goaltender interference penalty just eight seconds after the Mullally penalty expired.

After both penalties Pictou County let the clock run out as both teams settled for a 0-0 tie after one period.

In the second period it was Amherst that broke the scoreless tie 3:50 into the frame as Daniel Walsh beat Brandon Thibeau on a wraparound.

With the play wide open it was Nick Parker that next capitalized on a chance, just putting the puck on goal, with it barely making it through Richard Tingley’s five-hole at the 10:07 mark to knot the game 1-1.

Parker did it again just 45 seconds later, slapping the puck past Tingley to give Pictou County a 2-1 lead that would carry into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

“Both years - there’s 10 guys in that room there that are 20 - and they’re just unbelievable every night and show up to play,” said Thibeau about his teammates play in front of him this season and last. “That’s what it’s about in the playoffs. There’s 10 of us 20-year-olds and this is our year, so we’re just trying to make the most of it.”

In the third period Justin Thomas’ shot at the 1:43 mark would erase the Crushers first lead of the game, tying the game 2-2.

David Stephens snapping the puck glove-side on Tingley at the 10-minute mark broke the tie for the last time as he made good on his opportunity with space and time after a Ramblers turnover. The crowd at the Wellness Centre almost blew the roof off when the puck hit the back of the net, but their nerves would be tested late in the game.

Amherst was pressing late in the period, with lots of traffic in front of Thibeau, but with less than two minutes to play the Crushers cleared the puck deep into Ramblers territory. Mullally controlled the puck, but after being knocked down on the puck tried to keep the Ramblers from moving it out of their zone. Unfortunately for the Crushers he was called for delay of game for laying on the puck with 1:35 remaining in regulation.

“I was just trying to stay calm and focused,” said Thibeau. “You earn your own breaks, so we got that penalty, but we earned the win at the end of the day. That’s (penalty) something that’s not a big deal to us. You need to deal with the situation and we did.”

With under a minute remaining Thibeau made two point-blank saves, helping lift his team to victory, but after the game he wouldn’t take all the credit for the late game heroics.

“All our guys were doing a great job tonight and all series letting me see the puck,” he said. “Stephen MacInnis made a huge block at the end of the game that you never know, could’ve gone in, so kudos to every one of those guys in that room and it feels good to get that first round.”

With just four seconds remaining a Ramblers shot did make its way around the boards and out of the Pictou County zone causing some players to put their arms up to celebrate, but Thibeau kept his eye on the puck.

“It was on their tape at the end there and he actually got a shot on net from the red line, so I was just thinking don’t let that in,” he said. “Other than that in the back of your mind you’re just excited that you did it.”

The win means Pictou County and Truro will meet in the Eastlink Division final starting this Tuesday at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

“We’re going to do the same thing we did against Amherst, just review their tactics, strategies and review ours again,” said Thibeau. “We just have to play 60 minutes, three periods every game, so we’re just going to play the same way we did in this one.”

Organizations: Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Pictou County, NEW GLASGOW

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  • Crushers Fan
    March 30, 2014 - 18:43

    Great job guys! Now lets get Truro in 4!