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Crushers get first win, Amherst is next up

Pictou County Crushers
Pictou County Crushers - Contributed

MHL game Sept. 19 at Pictou County Wellness Centre

WESTVILLE ROAD, N.S.

It was the start the Junior A Crushers were looking for: a good crowd, and one in the win column.

In their Maritime Hockey League season-opener Sept. 12 against the Fredericton Red Wings, Crushers’ defenceman Logan Vande Meerakker ripped home a pair of power-play goals and Kevin Mason had an empty-netter in Pictou County’s 3-1 win, a fast-paced, physical game.

“We came out physical and moving our feet, but seemed to stray away from our game plan for about 15 minutes of the game. We took some undisciplined penalties, but I’m confident that we will correct those issues,” coach Mike Danton said.

“(In the) second half of the game we played pretty strong. Our special teams were very efficient and proved to be an important factor in the outcome.”

The Crushers next play against the Amherst Ramblers on Sept. 19, at the Pictou County Wellness Centre (PCWC).

Vande Meerakker, who played two seasons of Junior B with the Pictou County Scotians, accepted a training camp invitation with the Crushers and made the roster. He said he didn’t feel out of place, playing at a higher level.

“There was a feeling of nervousness and excitement,” he said of his first regular-season appearance in Junior A, “but I just went out there and played my game. I just want to keep moving in the right direction, keep improving.”

Crushers’ starting netminder Andrew MacLeod was solid against Fredericton, beaten only by Adam Zimmerman on a three-on-one rush, after a Crushers’ turnover at the offensive blue line.

“Other than that,” Danton said, “MacLeod made some big saves, and I was impressed with his game.”

There’s still a lot of work in the weeks and months ahead.

“I think our game will improve, once our group recognizes that our systems and style of play can prove to be effective in this league,” Danton added.

“We have worked hard, and need to have consistency from everyone in our roster in order to be successful.”

NOTES:

• Sullivan Sparkes assisted on all three Crusher goals against the Red Wings and Sam LeBlanc helped set up two goals.

• Nine of the Crushers first 12 games will be played on home ice in September-October.

• The Sept. 19 game against the Ramblers (7 p.m., PCWC) marks the return of Doug Doull, who spent four years behind the Crushers’ bench (they won the MHL title in his first season), before he resigned this past spring and subsequently accepted the Amherst job.

“I’m expecting they’ll come in here with a good team, and fired up,” Vande Meerakker said.

“I’m sure he’ll have them ready for a battle.”

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