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Bearcats primed for second-half push

Truro Bearcats captain Kyle Tibbo has been key to the team’s success this season. Tibbo, 20, leads the Bearcats in scoring with 24 goals and 25 assists in 28 games.
Truro Bearcats captain Kyle Tibbo has been key to the team’s success this season. Tibbo, 20, leads the Bearcats in scoring with 24 goals and 25 assists in 28 games.

TRURO, N.S. – Shawn Evans admits his team has had its share of peaks and valleys during the first half of the Maritime Junior Hockey League season.

There have been times, Evans says, when the Truro Bearcats have played extremely well and have looked very much like a top contender.

There have been other points in the season, however, when the club has struggled to find its game and has let inconsistent play dictate results on the scoreboard.

But through it all – and to their credit – the Bearcats have been able to maintain their spot among the league’s elite and have put themselves in a good position coming out of the Christmas break.

“The first goal is always to make the playoffs,” said Evans, the coach and general manager of the team. “We’re in a good position in that area; we’re right in the mix in our division.

“The first half, we’ve had some really good games and we’ve had some really not good games, so we’ve struggled at times with certain teams up to this point and we’ve struggled at times to put the full 60 minutes together. We’re going try and figure that out in the second half.”

There have been times, Evans says, when the Truro Bearcats have played extremely well and have looked very much like a top contender.

There have been other points in the season, however, when the club has struggled to find its game and has let inconsistent play dictate results on the scoreboard.

But through it all – and to their credit – the Bearcats have been able to maintain their spot among the league’s elite and have put themselves in a good position coming out of the Christmas break.

“The first goal is always to make the playoffs,” said Evans, the coach and general manager of the team. “We’re in a good position in that area; we’re right in the mix in our division.

“The first half, we’ve had some really good games and we’ve had some really not good games, so we’ve struggled at times with certain teams up to this point and we’ve struggled at times to put the full 60 minutes together. We’re going try and figure that out in the second half.”

Jason Rioux will be called upon to carry the load through the second half of the MHL season for the Truro Bearcats. Rioux has been solid and has helped the Bearcats remain near the top of the standings in the EastLink South Division.

The Bearcats wrapped up their pre-Christmas schedule last Saturday with a 5-1 win over Valley Wildcats to improve their record to 17-9-1-1. They sit tied with the Amherst Ramblers for third place in the EastLink South Division, just five points behind the second-place Yarmouth Mariners and only six back of the league-leading Pictou County Crushers.

“We’ve been inconsistent, but if you had offered me our record at the start of the year, I’d have taken it, if I’m being honest,” Evans said.

The Bearcats, who have seven first-year players on their roster, have leaned heavily on their veterans. Captain Kyle Tibbo, a former major junior player in the Quebec league, has led the way with 24 goals and 25 assists in 28 games. He leads the team in scoring and is second in league scoring. 

Brandon Hughes and Zach Moody, also 20 year olds, likewise have been key and are among the top-15 scorers in the league.

Last May, the Bearcats acquired experienced goaltender Jason Rioux from the Dieppe Commandos. Rioux (11-8-0-0, 3.01 GAA) has been steady and will be called upon to carry the load in the final months of the regular campaign and into the playoffs. 

“Both of our goalies are important, but we need Jason to play at the top of his game in the second half of the year, and I’ll expect him to do that.”

The Bearcats don’t return to action until Jan. 6 when they visit Yarmouth. Their next home game is Jan. 7 against the St. Stephen Aces.

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