WESTVILLE ROAD – While the Junior A Crushers trekked to New Brunswick on Wednesday to play the Woodstock Slammers, the Amherst Ramblers were resting up for a Thursday trip to the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
Heading into Woodstock, the Crushers were four points behind the Truro Bearcats in the South Division and a single point behind the Valley Wildcats. One of those teams will – in all likelihood – be in the playoffs come mid-March, and two of them won’t be.
To their credit, the Crushers are already in a post-season mindset, even though they still have 20 games left on their regular season schedule.
“Our mindset has to be like we’re in the playoffs right now,” said Crushers captain Michael Dill on Wednesday afternoon, as the Crushers headed west.
“It’s a three-team race for the final playoff spot, which will be a fun battle for our group.”
While Jacob Hickey has been a model of offensive consistency all season long – his 16 goals leads the team – Dill and linemate Dylan Riley have piled up the numbers of late. Both of them had relatively slow starts to their season in terms of offensive production, but in the past seven games, Dill has 11 points (4G, 11A) and Riley has 13 in that span (7G, 6A).
“I just think we have been playing the right way,” Dill explained, “doing the job in our own end is leading to chances for our line.”
The Ramblers, who are expected to be without starting goaltender Cody Porter (upper body injury) on Thursday, are in third place in the South Division, 10 points up on Truro. Amherst has taken two of three games against the Crushers this season.
After Thursday’s game (7 p.m. start time) Pictou County will then have to turn around and play a road game the next night against the Yarmouth Mariners.