Pictou County Weeks Crushers Michael Dill (47) and Luc Poirier, jam the Valley Wildcats net against Brandon Worthen (20), Dane Moore and goalie Ryan Huestis
TC MEDIA – The Wildcats made a late rally to try to take away the Crushers’ steam March 20 in Maritime Hockey League action, but couldn’t catch the host team.
Pictou County edged Valley 3-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven junior A hockey series.
“We had a good start again, like we did the first game,” Crushers’ forward Ethan Marsh said. “But just like in that game they found a way to get back into it. We closed it out, so it’s all good.”
Pictou County, as they did in Game 1 two days before , jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Benji Curtis lifted a shot from the side of the net past Valley netminder Ryan Huestis, then a Taylor Davis rocket from the point went off the post and then off Huestis and in with the Crushers on the power play.
The Crushers put pressure on the Wildcats through much of the first, but Valley staved off the onslaught to get to the dressing room down only two after 20 minutes.
“We want a better start next game, it’s not fun coming from behind early,” said Valley’s Jeremy Buttwerworth. “We really pressed toward the end, we had a lot of shots and a lot of chances, so hopefully we can bounce back on Tuesday.”
Marsh increased Pictou County’s lead in the middle period, roofing a wrist shot off a feed from Drew Packman and, by the time 10 minutes was gone in the third, the 3-0 lead stood.
Valley got back into it with a Matthew Nosella power play goal, and with Pictou County getting a little too passive and the Wildcats reinvigorated, Drake Batherson slid a loose puck home and the Wildcats were within one.
“The complexion of the game – we expected a push and we got it,” said Crushers’ coach Doug Doull.
“Our game started it to change and it shouldn’t have. Once we did, you expose a lot of territory out there. That can’t happen. Overall, I won’t take anything away from the way we battled. Valley is a good hockey team and at times you’re gonna have to defend a very good hockey team.”
The Crushers didn’t allow Valley a lot of room after Batherson’s goal, running out the clock to nail down Game 2. There’s heavy pressure on Valley when the teams hook up March 22 in Berwick.
“We’re starting slow and not moving our feet,” said Valley coach Nick Greenough.
“Pictou County is coming ready to play, playing hard and blocking shots. Their D is not giving our forwards much room. We’ve got to do a better job getting pucks deep and getting our legs moving.”
Superfan Val LeBlanc’s take
Play of the Game: “When Taylor (Davis) scored, it seemed to boost our boys.”
Player of the Game: “Taylor – he stepped up and he was really moving out there tonight.”
Game Summary: “They could have easily blown it, but they snapped out of it and they won.”
Prediction for Game 3: “If they keep playing the way they are, they’ll pull it out down in the Valley. It'll be 5-4 for the Crushers.”
Editor’s note: LeBlanc was also super lucky at the game: she won the 50/50 draw and took home $723.50.