It’s not a do-or-die week for the Junior A Crushers, but it’s close enough.
The Maritime Hockey League club, six points behind the Truro Bearcats for the final South Division playoff spot, play host to the Campbellton Tigers on Thursday before a huge division game on Friday night game in Truro.
“This weekend is going to be huge weekend for us,” said assistant captain Alex Bonaparte. “We’re excited for the challenges given to us this week and know what is on the line. ”
Pictou County first must worry about the Tigers, who have virtually clinched a playoff spot; they are 15 points ahead of the Woodstock Slammers and can still catch the Miramichi Timberwolves for third place.
Crushers coach Doug Doull expressed some admiration for Tigers key defencemen Trevor Bush, Pierre-Luc Lurette and Francis Thibeault.
“Their roster is pretty full, in terms of balance,” he said, adding that Campbellton is a hard-working team that can’t be taken lightly by anybody.
“(The Truro game), I don’t think anything needs to be said. You’re looking at a four-point game. At this point, it’s up to the players – what’s front of us is extremely important.”
Michael Dill, the Crushers captain and leading scorer who has missed two games with a lower-body injury, skated this week but as of Wednesday afternoon hadn’t been cleared to play.
The Crushers have spent the last month and a half fighting to catch their rivals from the Hubtown and a good week would see them snapping at the heels of the Bearcats, who played Wednesday at home against the Edmundston Blizzard.
On the other hand, a bad week would see the Crushers in deep trouble, with the regular season winding down.
“This will be a defining weekend for our team and is a chance to get closer to that final playoff spot,” Bonaparte said.
• Goaltender Matt Normore is expected to start against Campbellton.
• Winger Jaden Mason won’t play Thursday after getting one-game suspension for two fights in the same stoppage in play in Yarmouth.
• After Friday’s game in Truro, the Crushers and Bearcats play twice more in the regular season, both at the PCWC.
• The Crushers had an eventful trip to Yarmouth last Friday. Their team bus broke down twice on the way to play the Mariners, they got snow-stayed in Yarmouth after taking a 6-1 beating, and Saturday’s trip home saw another bus breakdown.
BY THE NUMBERS
Pictou County Crushers
Record: 15-18-4 (5th, South Division)
Top 5 Scorers: Michael Dill (17G, 23A), Jacob Hickey (20G, 16A), Dylan Riley (16G, 20A), Marc Gagnon (4G, 22A), Giancarlo Fiori (5G, 15A).
Record: 19-15-3 (4th, North Division)
Top 5 Scorers: Pierre-Luc Lurette (15G, 16A), Pascal Valcourt (11G, 11A), Tommy Callaghan (11G, 8A), Noah Whebby (9G, 9A), Tristan Young (7G, 11A).