Bring on the Cats

Christopher Cameron
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Pictou County opens division final tonight in Truro

NEW GLASGOW – Although it’s JP Harvey’s first year in Pictou County, he knows how tough a playoff series is with the Truro Bearcats.

Weeks Crushers head coach Jason Malone, left, talks to the team prior to practice Monday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. Tonight the Crushers open their Eastlink Division final against the Truro Bearcats at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

The 20-year-old Dartmouth native and former Summerside Western Capitals forward faced Truro in the 2013 MHL final, Fred Page Cup and RBC Cup. With that experience he knows the kind of atmosphere the Weeks Crushers will be facing when they open the Eastlink Division final tonight at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

“I think that they just keep rebuilding and keep bringing in good players,” said Harvey about the strength of the Truro organization. “Last year was kind of the same thing as this year because I ended up playing them a lot (during the regular season) then in playoffs, Fred Page and RBC. I definitely know that the rivalry is pretty big here as well, especially having played them a few times in the regular season.”

Saturday night Pictou County advanced with a 3-2 victory over the Amherst Ramblers in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Truro Bearcats, who finished first in the Eastlink Division, defeated the Valley Wildcats in four straight games to advance. The Bearcats last game was almost a week and a half ago, winning Game 4 over Valley on March 22.

“We had a couple hours to celebrate and just bask in it a little bit, but we knew that was just the first round and that we had the second round coming up, so we just started to prepare for that,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s going to matter (Truro having more time between series) because when it comes down to it, it’s playoffs and everybody is tired. Whether you play seven games or four games I don’t think it matters. It comes back to who wants it more.”

Both Pictou County and Truro go into their playoff matchup having won three games apiece during the regular season. The Crushers wins on Nov. 21 and Dec. 19 were back-to-back against the Bearcats, as the teams traded wins to wrap up the regular season.

“I think it shows it could go either way, but it will come down to what team wants it more in the end and who’s willing to battle harder for it,” said Harvey. “The season series definitely shows that it was even, so we’re just going in knowing it’s going to be a battle.”

The key to this series and shutting down the Bearcats is Pictou County’s physical play according to Harvey. He said minor details like finishing a check can make a big difference as the game and series wear on.

“We’re just going to need to play as physical as possible,” he said. “We know that they’re a fast team and they play very well structured, so we’re going to have to get pucks deep and finish every hit on them to try to get something going.”

Focused on Game 1 tonight, Harvey said setting the tone is important. In their series with Amherst there were “fast starts” and “slow starts,” but with this being the opening game of the division final their play throughout the entire game could set the tone for the entire series.

“It comes down to the first five or 10 minutes,” he said. “The biggest difference for us is when we buy in, get pucks deep, we’re playing our systems and finishing our hits, we have a better 60-minute effort. It’s (having a good series) going to start with having a strong start against them in Game 1.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Organizations: RBC, Eastlink Division, Summerside Western Capitals Rath Eastlink Community Centre Truro organization

Geographic location: Pictou County, Dartmouth

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