WESTVILLE ROAD, N.S.
The Junior A Crushers are now looking ahead to September.
Two minutes was enough to derail the playoff chances for the Junior A Crushers.
Needing to at least force overtime against the South Shore Lumberjacks on March 7, the Crushers gave up three goals in a span of 1:47 late in the first period, which broke open a 1-1 game and sent the Lumberjacks on their way to a 7-4 win.
Sam Meisenheimer scored twice for Pictou County, Kevin Mason and Evan Gallant also had goals, but the Crushers turned the puck over too often and gave up more than their fair share of odd-man rushes, and South Shore made them pay, eventually building a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.
“The boys are down,” coach Doug Doull admitted the next day, as the team bus rode toward Lunenburg County for their final game of the season, which would be a 6-3 loss to the Lumberjacks.
“A positive takeaway would be our second half compared to the start. They should be proud of their steady improvement over the course of the year.”
Meisenheimer and Mason scored in the third period to trim South Shore’s lead to 6-4, but the Lumberjacks potted an empty-netter to silence what was a large crowd at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
“Coming so close and missing the playoffs definitely is pretty tough,” said captain Evan MacLennan.
“But turning the year around like we did to give us a chance to make it to playoffs was definitely something all of the guys are proud of.”
Indeed, the Crushers were in rough shape by the end of October, then went on a furious run to roar back into the playoff picture. They actually owned a playoff spot for a good chunk of February and parts of early March, but could never quite shake the ’Jacks, who got hot at the right time to make the Maritime Hockey League post-season.
MacLennan, one of four graduating players (along with Barrett Dachyshyn, Meisenheimer and Michael Fradette), spent three seasons with the Crushers, a team that had 13 first-year players this season.
“I was lucky enough to play my junior hockey here in my hometown and I had a blast doing it, I made a lot of friends and memories that I’ll always remember,” MacLennan said.
“The fans would always cheer a little harder for the hometown guys, because you’re out there representing them, which was pretty awesome. I would never have wanted to play anywhere else than for the Pictou County Crushers.”