BROOKFIELD – The Brookfield Elks will try to do something tonight they haven’t managed to do all season in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
Beat the Sackville Blazers.
The two sides meet in Sackville at 7:30 p.m. to open their best-of-seven Fred Fox Division final. Game 2 is Thursday in Brookfield at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re going to have to play the best hockey we’ve played all year,” Elks head coach Hughie Matheson said. “We’re going to need to be on top of our game.”
Not much has separated the two sides this season, with all of Sackville’s five victories over Brookfield – with the exception of a 4-2 win on Feb. 11 – coming by just one goal.
“If we stick to the systems we should be able to give them all they can handle,” Matheson said.
The Elks (19-12-1-2), who finished second in the division in the regular season by just one point to the Blazers (20-12-2-0), earned their berth in the series with a five-game victory over the Bay Ducks (19-13-2-0), who finished just one point behind Brookfield.
The Blazers dispatched the fourth-place Valley Maple Leafs (16-11-5-2), who landed a point behind the Ducks, also in five games.
“I think they play a similar brand of hockey as St. Margaret’s Bay and they have a couple really strong forwards who can put the puck in the net,” Matheson said of the Blazers. “So if we play our best we can give them a good shot.”
Although the Elks have been getting contributions from everyone on the bench to get where they are, Matheson said it’ll be important for the team’s defence to keep up its strong play. The Brookfield back-end sparkled against the Ducks and helped goaltender Spencer Scott to a .940 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average thus far in the playoffs.
“Every guy has been doing the job and that’s what we need,” Matheson said. “The defence has been working better each game and the goaltending has been good all year, we’ve just got to step up our quality of play.”