‘We’re in a tough spot’

Val­ley Wild­cats split week­end, try­ing to make it back into play­off con­tention


It was a good week­end for the Val­ley ju­nior A Wild­cats, but they were hop­ing for bet­ter than sim­ply good.

The club split a pair of week­end home games at the Kings Mu­tual Cen­tury Cen­tre in Ber­wick, de­feat­ing the South Shore Lum­ber­jacks 5–1 Dec. 10, then drop­ping a close 4–3 de­ci­sion to the Yar­mouth Mariners the next af­ter­noon.

Goal­tender Justin Ritcey stopped 87 shots over the week­end, in­clud­ing 44 of 45 shots in the Dec. 10 vic­tory, and was named the game’s first star. The Lum­ber­jacks threw a flurry of qual­ity chances at the Wild­cat goal, but Ritcey made sev­eral high­light-reel saves to keep his team in front. His shut out bid was bro­ken on a five-on-three power play goal with only two min­utes re­main­ing.

Head coach Nick Gree­nough says Ritcey has been a very con­sis­tent since be­ing ac­quired by the Wild­cats early in the sea­son.

“He’s played great for us, and given us an op­por­tu­nity to win each night.”

Dono­val Re­hill, Evan Scott, Grant Janes, Adam Nolan and Ilya Putint­sev all scored for Val­ley in the win over South Shore, while Jean-Marc Evans-Re­naud added two as­sists.

Dropped Sun­day game

On Dec. 11, the Wild­cats had a 1–0 lead over Yar­mouth half­way through the game on a first pe­riod goal from Re­hill.

Yar­mouth seized con­trol with four goals in four min­utes dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod. Nic Blan­chard scored with less than a sec­ond re­main­ing in the sec­ond pe­riod and added an­other goal in the third, but it was as close as the Wild­cats would come.

Af­ter the game, Gree­nough was lament­ing the op­por­tu­nity that got away.

“I thought to­day the guys played well, but it’s the same thing all year,” he said. “Five min­utes of hockey and we lose the game in that small bit of time. We can’t have guys stop play­ing for five min­utes, this league is too good.”

For­ward Jonathan Larter was pleased to get two points to climb within a game of South Shore for fifth in the divi­sion, but knew the team let the Dec. 11 match slip through their fin­gers.

“We took five min­utes off tonight and it re­ally cost us,” he said.

Al­ready into the sec­ond half of their sched­ule and 12 points out of a play­off spot, Gree­nough says some tough de­ci­sions are com­ing over the next month.

“We’re in a tough spot right now try­ing to climb back into the play­off race. You never want to be a seller, you al­ways want to be a buyer, but we’re go­ing to have to look and see where we are as a club, and what’s best mov­ing for­ward.”

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