Truro tops division rivals Amherst, Pictou County as standings tighten
TRURO - The noise coming from the Truro Bearcats' dressing room told the whole story.
Truro Bearcats forward Brandon Bazinet, left, battles with Cam McDonald of the Amherst Ramblers Sunday in their Maritime Junior Hockey League tilt at RECC. The Bearcats won the game 4-2. Matthew Veno - Truro Daily News
The pumping music, team chanting and the sound of laughter as players joked with each other was the result of a weekend which saw the Bearcats (24-8-0-2) score a pair of wins over EastLink Division rivals at a time when the standings are airtight.
The Bearcats doubled the Amherst Ramblers (24-11-0-1) 4-2 Sunday in front of 702 fans at RECC just a day after beating the division-leading Pictou County Crushers (23-7-0-5) 5-2.
"Two big wins at home against two teams we're battling with in the standings," Bearcats coach Shawn Evans said. "Not easy games but we found a way to win and I thought we deserved to."
The results, which kept the Bearcats perfect in 2014 at 4-0, pushed Truro back into second in the division, one point behind the Crushers while Amherst and the Yarmouth Mariners (23-10-2-1) are tied for third, just one point behind Truro.
"It's a tight division," Bearcats forward Jacob Smith, who scored Sunday's winner, said. "There are four teams within three points so it felt good to get ahead of Amherst."
The Bearcats wasted no time making their intentions known. They put pressure on Amherst goaltender Richard Tingley's crease from the get-go, firing 17 shots his way. The score at the end of the opening 20 minutes, however, was only 1-1 thanks to goals from Truro captain Phillip Fife and Amherst's Connor Carson. But instead of getting discouraged, Evans said his players just put their heads down and kept at it.
"I felt we deserved to have a couple more goals than we did," Evans said. "It didn't materialize but you just have to keep moving along and go to the next shift and the next shift and we found a way to do that."
It paid off when Truro stretched out a 3-1 lead on goals from Jordan McNaughton and Smith, who took a feed in the slot from Brandon Bazinet in the corner and shot the puck over Tingley's glove.
Francis Alarie pulled one back for the Ramblers at 9:52 but Colby Lanceleve restored the two-goal lead at 10:55 of the third to seal the win.
Chris Festarini made 28 saves for the victory while Tingley faced 33 in the Amherst net.
Evans said the formula for victory on Saturday against Pictou County was much the same.
"The two teams we played, their styles are a bit different but ours has to be the same," he said. "You just have to keep sticking with it when your chances aren't going in."
On Saturday, in front of 1,240 fans, Tyler Morrison scored twice for Truro with other goals coming from Bazinet, Fife and Jeff Hanes. Bazinet also had two assists for a three-point night and Festarini stopped 29 shots.
J.P. Harvey and Mitchell Shewfelt scored for Pictou County and Brandon Thibeau made 33 saves.
Smith, an 18-year-old Sudbury, Ont., native, said he and his teammates are riding a wave of confidence.
"When we win we're sure a happy bunch and it was nice to get a four-point weekend out of it and the boys are definitely buzzing," he said.
The Bearcats are back in action Friday when they travel to Bridgewater to take on the Lumberjacks (2-32-3-2) at 7 p.m. before the Dieppe Commandos (23-8-2-2) visit Saturday at 7 p.m. Truro then hits the road Sunday for a date with the Ramblers at 4 p.m.
NOTES: The Bearcats will be missing forward Mitchell Robillard for six weeks after the St. Eustache, Que., native broke his left wrist in Saturday's game.
The six-foot-two, 189-pound forward fell awkwardly into the boards after getting tangled up with a Pictou County player in the second period.
Robillard, 20, underwent surgery in Halifax Sunday morning to repair of broken ulna and several torn tendons.
Robillard is tied for third on the team in scoring this season with Smith with 36 points (16G, 20A) in 33 games.
Evans said losing Robillard is tough for his team.
"I can't replace him," he said. "He's one of the best 200-foot hockey players in this league. We've used him in all situations, he's good on faceoffs, he's a leader, all we can do is soldier on."
On Twitter: @tdnmatt
FLAG: INSTANT REPLAY
The outcome - Truro Bearcats 4, Amherst Ramblers 2.
What it means - The Bearcats improve to second in the EastLink Division at (24-8-0-2) while Amherst falls to third at (24-11-0-1).
Season series - Truro leads 3-1.
The scorers - Truro: Phillip Fife, Jordan McNaughton, Jacob Smith, Colby Lanceleve; Amherst: Francis Alarie, Connor Carson.
Attendance - 702.
Next Up - The Bearcats travel to Bridgewater Friday to take on the Lumberjacks (2-32-3-2) at 7 p.m.