TRURO - Nothing has come easy for the Truro Bearcats this season.
Based on Game 1 of their Maurice Bent Division semifinal against the Yarmouth Mariners Saturday, when the Bearcats were embarrassed 8-2, winning in the postseason won't either.
"It looks like we're going to take the hard route again," said Bearcats coach Shawn Evans.
But taking the bumpy, winding road is just fine with the bench boss as his team enters Game 2 of the best-of-seven Maritime Junior Hockey League set in Yarmouth tonight at 7:30 p.m. Game 3 is Thursday in Truro.
"Any team I've had success with has been battle tested," he said. "I believe this group is and I've got their back. I've got a good club and a good group of young men but we need to take some responsibility and get busy out there."
The Bearcats have battled adversity all season long. After a shaky start, the Bearcats managed to climb out of fifth place in their division to finish second and even threaten the Pictou County Weeks Crushers for top spot. Bearcats defenceman Sam Caldwell, who had an assist in Saturday's loss, said he feels dealing with trying times this season will only help the Bearcats out of the whole they're in.
"We played a lot of close games and that builds character," he said. "Last year, we won almost every game and in the playoffs we didn't step up. But this year we've got a good group of guys and we're definitely going to battle, especially after losing 8-2."
Caldwell, a North Sydney native, said getting whalloped on home ice is a wake-up call for he and his teammates.
"Nobody likes losing 8-2, especially in their own barn," he said. "So we're going to come back 100 times harder and show them how we're going to play the rest of the series."
The Mariners caught the Bearcats off guard Saturday as Kyle Campbell netted a short-handed tally just 1:48 into the game to start his hat-trick performance. Colin Campbell, Robbie Lepine, Kenny Mahoney, Ben MacLaughlin and Jared Hicks also scored.
Stephen Horyl and Jordan Mock responded for Truro. Spencer Scott surrendered six goals on 18 shots and was replaced by Kirk Rafuse early in the third period.
But Evans wasn't hanging the loss on his goaltenders.
"Spencer deserved to play in my opinion," he said. "He had a great second half and played the last three games against them.
"I thought we were ready to play and we weren't. I'll take full responsibility for that."
But Evans said Saturday's beating should be enough to wake his club up.
"They embarrassed us in every way possible and if my group wasn't embarrassed by that I don't know what it will take."
Although Caldwell said Saturday's game "was a bad loss," he said nobody in the Truro dressing room is hanging their head. It's just a matter of getting back to basics and making sure the Bearcats play their own game.
"It's only one game," he said. "You've got to win four, so there's still a long way to go. It's not close to being over yet."