TRURO – The willingness to do whatever it took to win seemed to be missing from the Truro Bearcats in December.
It’s back now.
The Bearcats (23-6-0-3) dug deep down and gutted out a 6-5 win over the Yarmouth Mariners (26-7-1-0) in front of 1,501 fans who made Mariners Centre in Yarmouth a playoff-hockey-in-January atmosphere.
“It feels really good,” Bearcats forward Philip Fife, who scored the winner on the powerplay at 12:57 of the third period, said. “The team needed that win.”
Indeed. The Bearcats rolled into Yarmouth with bruised egos, losing eight of their past 15 games following a start that took 18 games to fall in regulation. But they had beaten the Amherst Ramblers 6-5 in a shootout their last time out and were looking to prove with the help of three deadline additions last week, they were back to the Bearcats of old.
“It’s a big win for us,” Fife, a 19-year-old Oromocto, N.B., native said. “Especially after struggling like we did in December.”
The victory pulls Truro, second in the EastLink Division, to within four points of first-place Yarmouth.
The Mariners wasted no time and put the Hubtowners into a 2-0 hole just 6:55 in courtesy of Morgan Messenger and Brandon Bussey.
But Alex Hazlehurst scored on the powerplay at 18:47 of the first and Kyle Morrison (1:52) and Dylan McGuigan (2:41) continued the momentum in the second to give Truro a 3-2 lead. Daniel Perigo made it 4-3 by the midpoint of the frame after Jared Hicks scored for Yarmouth on the powerplay.
Messenger’s second of the game at 10:10 of the third knotted the contest before Grant West, with the man-advantage at 11:37, and Fife sealed the deal. Bussey added his second with two minutes remaining.
Cal Gloade and Patrick Downe each chipped in a pair of assists for Truro.
Shayne Campbell made 36 saves to backstop the Bearcats while Travis Wilkins stopped 31 in the Yarmouth crease.
“That was a character win,” Bearcats coach Shawn Evans said. “I was really proud of the players and the other coaches.”
Aside from offence, the game also featured plenty of intensity as Truro’s Grant West dropped the gloves with Matt Tomah mid-way through the opening frame and Bearcats defenceman Patrick Downe exchanged fists with Braden Mercier at the end of the second period. McGuigan and teammate Zack Evans-Renaud were also assessed 10-minute misconducts in the same stoppage.
“We showed some intestinal fortitude and played greasy, arrogant road hockey and that’s the way you’ve got to play,” Evans said. “We did all the things we needed to do to beat a good hockey team in a packed rink on the road.”
Evans said he also liked how his team fought back after finding itself in an early hole.
“We could have went away in that first period but we didn’t,” he said. “We stuck around and got our opportunity and took it.”
The Bearcats are back in action Thursday when they travel to Pictou County to take on the Crushers at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: The Bearcats’ latest addition, Mitchell Robillard of the Quebec junior AAA league’s St. Leonard Condors, is scheduled to arrive in Truro Tuesday and practice with the team Wednesday. He’ll see his first game action with his new club Thursday.