Crushers hitting the road
Pictou County squad visits Valley Friday, clashes with rival Truro Saturday
In the midst of a nice little run that is keeping them on the fringes of the playoff race, the Junior A Crushers will play two on the road this weekend.
Pictou County, seven points behind the South Shore Lumberjacks for the final playoff spot in the Maritime Hockey League’s South Division (the ’Jacks have played three fewer games than the Crushers), is at the Valley Wildcats on Friday and then heads to Truro for a 7 p.m. game Saturday against the Bearcats.
“We’ll approach those games no different than we do any other game,” said coach Doug Doull.
“(But) our guys know there’s an urgency and desperation that’s required the rest of the way. There’s not much room for error.”
The Crushers, who had a Nov. 29 game against the St. Stephen Aces postponed due to inclement weather, don’t have a usual Thursday night game this week.
After a frustrating first two months of the season, the Crushers have started to get rewarded for their work.
On Dec. 1 at Amherst Stadium, they took a 2-0 lead into the third period and pumped in four more for a convincing 6-0 win, their third in four games. It was a good bounce back for the Crushers, who looked flat in a 5-2 loss to the Ramblers at home on Nov. 26.
The win in Amherst, Doull said, “was a better representation of us, in a barn that’s really though to play in.”
Andrew Burden, acquired via trade with the Edmundston Blizzard in late November – the Crushers sent centre Cam Scott to Edmundston in the deal – scored a pair of goals and defenseman Michael Fradette had two goals and an assist in the win over Amherst. They were the first two goals of the season for Fradette.
Jacob Hickey and Jaden Mason also had goals and Matt Normore made 38 saves in the Crushers’ net for his second straight shutout. In his previous start, he backstopped Pictou County’s 6-0 victory on Nov. 24 against Valley.
Doull feels like Normore and Andrew MacLeod have stabilized the goalie position, but like most coaches are waiting for a No. 1 goaltender to identify himself. For the time being, though, he’ll go with the hot hand.
“You got to go back with Normy, he’s had two shutouts in a row now.”
■ With young defencemen Ryan MacLennan, Matthew Genge and Harry Sanders starting to show development, the Crushers dealt 20-year-old blueliner Aleck Forcier to Edmundston this past week, getting future considerations and a 2020 draft pick (fifth round) in return.
■ Barrett Dachyshyn (7G, 15A), Dylan Riley (7G, 15A) and Jacob Hickey (6G, 10A) lead the Crushers in scoring.
■ Matt Normore has gotten his save percentage up to .904.
■ Jacob Hickey has eight points in the past seven games (3G, 5A).
Weeks Crushers forward Jaden Mason battles against Thomas Ashe of the Amherst Ramblers in a Dec. 1 game at Amherst Stadium.