TRURO, N.S. – With just days remaining in the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s regular schedule, there remains much to be decided, particularly in the Eastlink South Division.
There, Yarmouth Mariners and Amherst Ramblers are within a point of each other for top spot in the division.
Even more interesting is the battle ensuing just below them in the standings, where three teams – Truro Bearcats, Pictou County Weeks Crushers and South Shore Lumberjacks – are separated by a mere two points. Two of the three will advance to the playoffs, one will be hanging up their skates for the year.
Yarmouth, with 70 points, would be a likely bet to take top spot, with an extra game in hand over the Ramblers. They have a contest against Grand Falls and two with the Valley Wildcats – cellar-dwellers in their respective divisions – and South Shore.
Amherst has three games remaining, one with South Shore and a home-and-home with Truro. Both teams will be fighting for their playoff lives, so the Ramblers should have their hands full.
For third- and fourth-place playoff berths, the Bearcats (51 points) find themselves in the unenviable position of having two fewer games to play than both Pictou and South Shore, who have 49 points following weekend play.
Truro takes on Valley, and then finishes against the aforementioned Ramblers in a home-and-home set, with the games a week apart. The Bearcats’ fortunes may not be in their own hands, come the final weekend. The final two games of the season for the Crushers and Lumberjacks will be against each other. Points picked up in overtime and shootout decisions could weigh heavily in the outcome.
South Shore has the luxury of four of their five remaining games being played at home. The Crushers play four of their five remaining games on the road, including a three-games-in-three-days swing through New Brunswick beginning Friday, where they will face Grand Falls, Edmundston and St. Stephen.
EASTLINK NORTH DIVISION
Certainly, there is less drama to the north. The Summerside Western Capitals (36-8-1-1, 74 points) wrapped up top spot there, as they sit with 11 points between them and Campbellton Tigers (29-12-2-3, 63 points) as the regular schedule winds down.
Edmundston Blizzard (22-17-5-1, 50 points) have a lock on third.
Then comes a bit of drama. After weekend play, St. Stephen Aces (18-25-3-0, 39 points) were two up on Miramichi Timberwolves (17-25-3-0, 37 points) for the fourth and final playoff spot.
It’s clear there’s a lot on the line for several teams with a few weeks remaining before the post season.
And it should make for some entertaining hockey.
Here's how things look for the remainder of the schedule for the Eastlink South teams:
EASTLINK SOUTH DIVISION
First: 33-9-3-1 (70 points)
(H) Wednesday – Grand Falls
Saturday – @ South Shore
(H) March 8 – Valley
March 9 – @Valley
Second: 33-11-1-2 (69 points)
Thursday – @ South Shore
(H) Saturday – Truro
March 9 – @ Truro
Third: 23-19-2-3 (51 points)
Friday – @ Valley
Saturday – @ Amherst
(H) March 9 – Amherst
PICTOU COUNTY CRUSHERS
(T-Fourth) 21-17-3-4 (49 points)
Friday – @ Grand Falls
Saturday – @ Edmundston
Sunday – @ St. Stephen
(H) March 7 – South Shore
March 8 – @ South Shore
SOUTH SHORE LUMBERJACKS
(T-Fourth) 23-19-3-0 (49 points)
(H) Tuesday – Grand Falls
(H) Friday – Amherst
(H) Saturday – Yarmouth
March 7 – @ Pictou County
(H) March 8 – Pictou County