TRURO - The Truro Bearcats showed just why they have been one of the Maritime Junior Hockey League's top clubs since Christmas Sunday against the Valley Wildcats.
The Bearcats (35-11-0-2) cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Wildcats (19-23-4-1) in front of a crowd of 582 at RECC on fan appreciation day.
"I like how the group is playing," Bearcats coach Shawn Evans said. "We're finding different ways to win."
The Bearcats stretch their lead over the Pictou County Crushers (31-12-0-5) atop the EastLink Division to five points thanks to Sunday's triumph and a 5-2 win over the Yarmouth Mariners (29-17-2-1) Saturday at RECC. Truro has four games remaining in the regular season starting Friday in Yarmouth at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday's win was Truro's fifth in a row - all at home - and the Bearcats have won 16 of 18 games since the Christmas break.
"The players did what they had to do this week," Evans said. "They protected home ice and that's important in the standings, no question. The players deserve a lot of credit at this time of year to win five in a row."
Jacob Smith, Truro's scoring leader with 29 goals, opened the scoring at 16:31 of the first period.
Smith made it 2-0 Truro 5:26 into the second frame before Josh Worthen cut the deficit to 2-1 just a minute later. However, Tyler Morrison and Brandon Pye put the Bearcats ahead 4-1 before the end of the period.
The Bearcats broke the contest open in the third with Daniel Perigo scoring just eights seconds in, followed by goals from Colby Lanceleve, Jordan McNaughton, Pye - with his second - and Jordan Wentzell.
Colby Tower and former Bearcat Jean-Marc Evans-Renaud countered for Valley, which got 24 saves for Blade Mann-Dixon, who was replaced by Mike Pettet after Lanceleve's marker. Pettet made stops on 11 shots the rest of the way.
Jacob Fancy claimed the victory with 32 saves.
"Valley got the jump on us on the first," Evans said. "We won the period but Fancy gave us some big saves and that was big for us. In the second, once our compete level came up, things started to go our way."
McNaughton's 15th tally inched him one closer to the team's single season record of 17 goals by a defenceman.
On Saturday, Pye scored a pair of goals while Morrison, Smith and David Mosher added single tallies. McNaughton provided three assists and Morrison had two.
Chris Festarini made 33 saves for the victory.
Zack Henry and Morgan Messenger answered for the Mariners and Anderson Snair stopped 22 shots.
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