Bearcats are moving on
By Gerry Hale
The last thing most Maritime Junior Hockey League observers would have expected to see in the EastLink Division final between the Bearcats and the Crushers was a broom.
It's tough enough to execute a sweep at the best of times, but to do it twice in two playoff rounds has to be considered highly impressive, especially between those two teams.
Most anticipated a full-fledged battle between the top two teams in the division, much like last year's seven-game series. Well, it didn't happen.
Truro's plan at the outset was to forecheck, then forecheck some more, to force the veteran Crushers to play the full 200 feet. In the battle between speed and experience, the former won out.
The opening two games were disappointing. Two lopsided scores didn't generate interest, but it did foster frustration and some bad decisions, especially in the second encounter.
Credit the Crushers with finding their game and making it a series. Pictou County was hungrier in the third game and the push back was very noticeable.
Game 4 saw a continuation of the suspense and drama associated with a game where the outcome is in doubt. Both teams played the grind game to perfection.
In overtime, anything can happen. Those in attendance can verify most of the play in the extra session was in the Crushers' end. Unfortunately for the Pictou County squad, an innocuous bounce brought their hope, and season, to a sudden stop.
Without question, the short series, and season, had to be a disappointment. The result fell short of expectations.
For a young team, the Bearcats stuck with the plan and found a way to win. By times they bent but didn't come unglued or lose composure.
The Bearcats won their fifth divisional banner (all five were awarded on the road) under head coach Shawn Evans and now await the winner out of the Meek Division. The Bearcats have 11 players returning from last year's Fred Page Cup winner and they surely go into the league final well motivated.
A few days off to recuperate, then it's the return to work to hone up on strengths and strategies. There's no desire to change the way they play.
The team appreciated the large turnout last Saturday and the strong showing of support in New Glasgow. This is a team well worth watching and following.
In a best-of-seven final, the number of home games ranges from two to four. The RECC has plenty of seats so come out and enjoy the best the MHL has to offer.
The opening game of the Kent Cup final is set for Monday at 7 p.m.
TAGLINE: Gerry Hale is media relations co-ordinator for the Truro Bearcats junior A hockey club