Newest Bearcats ready to play

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
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Festarini, Boutilier looking forward to first game in the Hubtown

TRURO - There's no question the Truro Bearcats are eager to get their Saturday matchup with the Pictou County Crushers underway.

Brandon Boutilier, left, and Chris Festarini are looking forward to playing their first game as members of the Truro Bearcats Saturday when Truro hosts the Pictou County Crushers at 7 p.m. at RECC. The Bearcats then host the Amherst Ramblers Sunday at 2 p.m. Matthew Veno - Truro Daily News

But nobody on the Hubtown squad is looking forward to the contest more than its newest faces; goaltender Chris Festarini and forward Brandon Boutilier, who will suit up for their first game in the red, black and white.

"I haven't been on the ice all that much in the last month and considering everything I've gone through and how good this team is, I'm really excited to have a fresh start," Festarini, a 20-year-old native of Timmins, Ont., said.

The Bearcats and Crushers are set to lock horns at 7 p.m. at RECC. A win would lift the Bearcats (22-8-0-2) to within two points of the EastLink Division-leading Crushers (23-6-0-4). The Bearcats then turn their attention to hosting the Amherst Ramblers (22-10-0-1) Sunday at 2 p.m.

Festarini came to the Bearcats last week from the OHL's Niagara Ice Dogs for future considerations while Boutilier landed in the Hubtown a day later from the Valley Wildcats in exchange for Alex Hazlehurst, Jean-Marc Evans-Renaud and a seventh round draft pick in June.

"It was a last-minute decision but probably one of the best decisions I've made," Boutilier, a 20-year-old who calls Hacketts Cove home, said. "It's a great spot so far; great town, great billets, a great facility, coach, trainers, it's awesome here. So I'm excited to get started."

Truro and Pictou County come into the contest heading in much different directions. The Bearcats are on a three-game win streak since the calendar turned to 2014, outscoring their opponents 25-6. The Crushers have lost their past two games and are 1-2 this year while having been outscored 12-7.

"They're a skilled team but they're definitely beatable," Boutilier, who played 52 games for the Crushers in 2010-11, said. "I think we can catch them before the year is over."

Boutilier added there's plenty of drive to do so from his teammates.

"You're always motivated to get a W," he said.

To do that, the Bearcats simply have to continue doing what they have been, keeping things simple and getting the puck deep into the opposition end.

But Festarini and Boutilier will be called upon to play important roles as cogs in the wheel for the Bearcats heading down the stretch run to the playoffs in early March.

"These guys aren't here to put us over the top, they're here to help make us better and I know they'll do that," Bearcats head coach and general manager Shawn Evans said.

On Twitter: @tdnmatt

Organizations: EastLink Division

Geographic location: Timmins, Pictou County

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