Truro looking forward to hitting the ice after layoff
TRURO - The Truro Bearcats enjoyed their nine-day vacation.
Truro Bearcats defencemen Mitchell Scott, left and Ryan Moore, talk after practice Monday at RECC. The Bearcats host the Pictou County Crushers tonight at 7 p.m. at RECC in Game 1 of the MHL's EastLink Division final. Matthew Veno - Truro Daily News
Now they're ready to get back to work.
The Bearcats open the Maritime Junior Hockey League's EastLink Division final tonight against the rival Pictou County Crushers. Game 1 of the best-of-seven affair is slated for 7 p.m. at RECC.
"I don't know how we're going to do but I know we're bored of practice so for us it's time to play," Bearcats coach Shawn Evans said after practice on Monday.
The Bearcats, who finished first overall in the regular season with a 38-11-1-2 record, come into the contest after an extended layoff thanks to sweeping the No. 4 seeded Valley Wildcats in four games in their division semifinal.
The Crushers needed seven games to get past the Amherst Ramblers in their semifinal, which just concluded on Saturday.
Will the layoff help or hurt the Bearcats, who are now healthy but face a battle-tested opponent?
"We're going to find out," Evans said.
But what the Bearcats do know is they'll have their hands full of an opponent that, no matter what the situation, always gets up for a game against their Hubtown rivals. Truro will have to be ready from the opening faceoff
"If you have a week off or you're playing two days after your last series, there's no excuses, you have to be ready to go no matter what the circumstances," Bearcats forward Brandon Pye, who leads the team with 10 postseason points (3G, 7A), said.
"We've never made any excuses in 12 years and we're not going to make any this round."
On paper, the two sides stack up well. Truro and Pictou County battled to a 3-3 draw in the regular season series with a combined score of 20-20.
There's also plenty of history between the opponents. The Bearcats and Crushers battled to seven games in last season's division semifinal, with Truro coming out on top before marching on to a Fred Page Cup Eastern Canadian championship.
However, Truro has been the hottest club in the league since Christmas. The Bearcats won 19 of their final 22 regular-season games to erase an eight-game deficit to the Crushers at the Christmas beak and leapfrog their Mount Thom rivals for top spot in the division. They then run down the Miramichi Timberwolves in the final weeks of the schedule to top the overall table.
But the Bearcats will be the first to tell you the playoffs are all about ‘what have you done for me lately.'
"We have to execute even better," Pye said, referencing his team's performance against the Wildcats. "We're playing a really good team so it's not going to be easy."
Evans said it'll be important to respect the talent of the Crushers, while making sure his team takes its game to the opposition.
"We play a certain way, we're going to keep playing that way and hope it's good enough," he said. "We want to get busy, we want to pressure the puck and we need to play a pressure, patient game at the same time. There's a fine line there but that's the way we need to approach it."
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