Slammers continue to lead way in MHL



Despite losing their second game of the season, the Woodstock Slammers continue to be one of the great stories on and off the ice of the Maritime Hockey League. Rallying around teammate Zack Whitlock, who was diagnosed with cancer during the off-season and is currently undergoing treatment for the disease, the Slammers have jumped out of the gate and into the lead in the MHL standings, sitting with a 14-2-0-0 record.

The Slammers played three games in three days over the weekend, winning two contests. Drew Gross scored a pair of goals in the Slammers road win in Campbellton on Friday night in front of Matt Jenkins making 26 saves in the win. Staying in northern New Brunswick, the Slammers would drop a road contest in Miramichi by a score of 4-2. Twnety-year-old former QMJHL’er Matt Bursey scored both goals in the effort for Woodstock. They ended their week returning home and defeating the Bridgewater Lumberjacks 5-1. Riley Craft, Jonny Erbs and Liam Hynes all chipped in one goal, one assist efforts while Jenkins turned aside 27 shots.

The Dieppe Commandos sit second in the Meek Division with a record of 11-2-0-0. The Commandos won their only outing of the week on Sunday, defeating the Miramichi Timberwolves 7-5 on home ice. Jeremy Doucet led the Commandos with a pair of goals while newly acquired Francis Bernier made his Commandos debut after being acquired from the Campbellton Tigers. Bernier chipped in one assist in the game.

The Miramichi Timberwolves currently take the third spot in the division. The Timberwolves split a pair of games against the top teams in the Meek to finish with a record of 9-4-0-0. Saturday night the Timberwolves defeated Woodstock at home 4-2, led by a 36 save performance from Alex Collette. Sunday afternoon in Dieppe, Billy Clarke would make his first start(second appearance) with the Timberwolves, and would give up seven goals on 34 shots. Defenceman Brayden Wood would record four points in the game, his second four point effort of the season.

The Summerside Western Capitals jumped up to the fourth spot with a pair of wins during the weekend. They defeated the Amherst Ramblers 8-5 in Amherst on Saturday evening. Blaize Bridges and Thomas Stavert scored four points in the game with Mason Krueger potting a hat trick. They would return home the next afternoon to play the St. Stephen County Aces, and despite outshooting the Aces 71-22, the Caps would barely hang on, defeating the Aces 4-3. Brad Power led the Caps with a pair of goals and an assist. The Caps finish the week with a record of 6-5-1-1

The Campbellton Tigers were the team overtaken by Summerside in the standings. The Tigers would split a pair of games the past week, beginning with a 9-2 road win in St. Stephen on Wednesday. Former QMJHL’er Robert Pelletier led the Tigers with a pair of goals and pair of assists while Kraig Pasher netted a hat trick. The Tigers would return home two nights later and drop a home contest against the front running Woodstock Slammers. Malik Johnson and Pierre-Luc Lurette potted the Tigers goals in the game.

The St. Stephen County Aces remain searching for the second win in franchise history, dropping three games this week, two on home ice. On Wednesday night they were soundly defeated 9-2 by the Campbellton Tigers. Brandon Cottrell had points on both Aces goals. They would then host the Bridgewater Lumberjacks, and despite tightening up defensively, the Aces could not muster more than two goals, and would drop the game 4-2. Cottrell would once again score points on both goals. They would end the week by traveling to Summerside, where Anderson Snair would stop 67 Summerside shots, but it would not be enough as the Aces would drop the game 4-3. Curtis Hastings and Ricky Young had two point games for the Aces.

In the Nova Scotia based Eastlink Division, the Pictou County Weeks Crushers have taken top spot, winning both of their games this past week. On Thursday night, the Crushers would blow a 3-1 lead to the Valley Wildcats, but an overtime goal by Ryan Caswell would salvage the win for Jason Malone’s club. Justin McDonald, Evan Morrison and Daniel Walsh also scored for the Crushers, and all three of those players would add an assist in the game. The Crushers would travel to Yarmouth on Saturday night to play the Mariners, and would use a three-goal second period to bury the Mariners 4-2. Former QMJHL’er Mike Lyle led the Crushers with a goal and two assists.

The Truro Bearcats take second spot in the Eastlink, winning their only game of the week against the Valley Wildcats 6-1 at home. Jimmy Soper led the Crushers with three goals and an assist while Mark Grametbauer turned aside 21 shots.

The Wildcats would hold on to take the third spot in the division, despite dropping both games this week. On Thursday night, the Wildcats were defeated in overtime by the Crushers 4-3 before being defeated by the Truro Bearcats 6-1 in Truro on Saturday night. The Wildcats end the week with a record of 7-9-2-1.

The Yarmouth Mariners come in at fourth in the division at the end of the week. The Mariners split a pair of games the past week, winning on the road while losing at home. On Friday night, the Mariners would survive a late push from the Bridgewater Lumberjacks and defeat them 5-4. Brandon Syms led the Mariners with a pair of goals and an assist. At home on Saturday night, the Mariners were defeated by the Weeks Crushers 4-2. Shawn Boudreau and Matt Lourenco scored for the Mariners while Chase Gaudet stopped 26 shots in the loss.

The Bridgewater Lumberjacks currently sit in fifth place in the Eastlink. The Lumberjacks dropped two out of three games over the weekend, beginning with a 5-4 home loss to Yarmouth. Damon MacEachern, Makail Parker and Brett Tidman had multi point games for the Lumberjacks in the effort. The Jacks would then go on a New Brunswick road trip, beginning with a 4-2 win in St. Stephen on Saturday night. MacEachern would lead the Lumberjacks with a pair of goals and an assist while Christopher Langlais stopped 35 shots in the win. The Lumberjacks would then fall victim to the Woodstock Slammers on Sunday afternoon by a score of 5-1. Layton Parsons scored the only goal for Bridgewater.

The Amherst Ramblers sit in the basement of the Eastlink, holding a record of 2-11-1-0. The Ramblers would host the Summerside Western Capitals in their only appearance of the week on Saturday, and would give up eight goals in an 8-5 loss. Lucas Batt scored a pair of goals for the Ramblers while Josh Pugsley and Seth Schmidt also had mulit point games.

Following action this week, the Canadian Junior Hockey League(CJHL) would release their top 20 weekly rankings. The Woodstock Slammers would drop from fifth place to sixth place in the nation. The Pictou County Weeks Crushers would go from being an Honourable Mention to 18th in the country this week.

The MHL would also name their three starts of the week on Monday. Third star honours went to Pictou County goaltender Justin Ritcey, who stopped 36 shots in his only appearance Saturday night in Yarmouth. Second star of the week went to Jimmy Soper of the Truro Bearcats. Soper would also appear in only one game this week, a 6-1 home win against the Valley Wildcats on Saturday, and would score three goals and one assist. First star of the week was Mason Krueger of the Summerside Western Capitals. Krueger would score five points (3-2) in two Summerside wins over the weekend.

Action this week in the MHL will kick off again on Thursday night at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, with the Crushers hosting the Miramichi Timberwolves.