It’s that time of year, and that kind of situation.
The Junior A Crushers, embroiled in a playoff chase with the South Shore Lumberjacks, have back-to-back games on home ice this week, looking to extend a seven-game home win streak to keep themselves in front of the ’Jacks.
The tick of the Maritime Hockey League clock is getting louder; the Crushers have 12 games remaining in the regular season, and play Thursday against the Campbellton Tigers (7 p.m., Pictou County Wellness Centre) and the next night play the St. Stephen Aces (7:30 p.m.).
“Every game is important now,” said forward Barrett Dachyshyn, who praised the Tigers’ defensive corps and noted the Aces are in the same boat as the Crushers: desperate for wins.
“They’re fighting for their life (and) we can’t take them lightly. We know how they feel.”
In a season that, in mid-November, seemed headed off a cliff, the Crushers have gone 13-1-1 in its last 15 games.
“We’re writing quite the Cinderella story,” said Dachyshyn, who is his final year of junior hockey and, in some moments, hears that ticking clock.
“I’m not going to lie about it – it slips into my head here and there – but I try to focus mainly on this season and what we can accomplish this year. It’s the same with (all of the last-year Crushers). We’re worried about the now, the future, we’ll worry about later.”
Pictou County is just one point ahead of South Shore in the race for the final playoff spot in the South Division. The Lumberjacks have a game in hand.
Pictou County is also within six points of the third-place Truro Bearcats, losers of five straight.
“We haven’t seen those guys in a while,” head coach Doug Doull said of this week’s North Division opponents.
“But both those teams are playing well and playing for something. We can’t, at this stage, scoreboard watch. We can only play one game 12 times – that’s all.”
The Week That Was:
• Matt Normore collected his league-leading sixth shutout of the season in Pictou County’s 4-0 win over the Valley Wildcats on Saturday. He made 21 saves in net, as the goals came from Jaden Mason, Kevin Mason, Andrew Burden and Chase Ellis. Michael Fradette had a pair of assists.
• On Jan. 31 at the PCWC, Evan MacLennan had a hat trick, Sam Meisenheimer scored two goals and set up two others in Pictou County’s 7-5 win over the Grand Falls Rapids. Jaden Mason and Ellis also scored for the Crushers and Andrew MacLeod got the win in goal.
• That game followed Pictou County’s 7-3 loss to the Summerside Western Capitals on Jan. 30 in P.E.I.
Barrett Dachyshyn, Meisenheimer and Kevin Mason scored for the Crushers, Brodie MacArthur had three goals and four assists for the Caps.
• Rookie forward Chase Ellis was named January’s rookie for the month in the Maritime Hockey League. In nine games, he posted five goals and two assists.