Schedule picks up Thursday and teams jockey for playoff positioning

(Photo via Summerside Western Capitals)


Time is ticking away on the Maritime Hockey League regular season as most teams have only five or six games remaining. Amherst (31-11-1-2) booked their ticket to the post-season with a win over Pictou County (19-17-3-4) last Saturday. With half of the playoff teams determined, the focus shifts to the three teams in the South and all four in the North battling for the two remaining spots in each division.

One of the week’s key matchups kicks things off on Thursday as the Truro Bearcats (23-18-2-2) hit the road for their final game against the South Shore Lumberjacks (20-19-3-0). Truro sits in third place and held on for a 5-4 win over South Shore in Truro on Saturday, but losses on either side of that game to Summerside (34-8-1-1) and Amherst leave the Bearcats five points ahead of the Crushers and seven ahead of the Lumberjacks. A win here by South Shore would turn up the pressure on the other two clubs, especially with the Lumberjacks holding games in hand on each.

Pictou County is also in action Thursday as they face Edmundston (22-16-4-0). The Blizzard are all but assured of a third-place finish in the North, but will need a few wins in their final eight games to make that happen. The Crushers have lost two in a row, including a heart-breaker against Yarmouth on Monday. It’s worth noting that the Crushers and Lumberjacks finish the regular season with a home and home series which could very well decide the fourth and final playoff spot in the South. As is the case for Truro, any points these teams can gain are crucial.

Finally, Summerside is home to Grand Falls (12-22-4-2). The Rapids play seven games over the next ten days, due to a Nova Scotia road trip which was moved from November, and are in tough against the Western Capitals. Summerside can clinch the North with just one more point or another Campbellton loss. This game will be available on Eastlink Community TV on channels 10 and 610.

Ten teams hit the ice on Friday. Summerside visits Miramichi (17-24-2-0) in the MHL Game of the Week. This game will be free to watch on HockeyTV.  The Timberwolves sit one point behind St. Stephen (17-24-3-0) for the final playoff spot in the North, with a game in hand on the Aces. South Shore hit the road to play Valley (6-34-4-0). The Wildcats have lost nine in a row, but can still take the season series over the Lumberjacks and capture the inaugural West Nova Scotia Regiment Challenge Cup if they take the final two matchups against South Shore.

The Bearcats hit the road for their final game against Yarmouth (32-8-3-1). Truro is 0-6 against the Mariners this season and dropped a 6-5 decision at Mariners Centre earlier this month. Yarmouth has just a three-point lead over Amherst for first place in the South Division, though they have a game in hand. The Ramblers play their first of two home games this week on Friday as they host the Blizzard. Their only other meeting of the season was a 3-2 Amherst loss in Edmundston back in early November. The final matchups for the day will see Campbellton in Grand Falls to play the Rapids. The Tigers have won three in a row, allowing just one goal to Edmundston after back to back shutout wins over Miramichi and Summerside.

There are three games on Saturday with a huge matchup in Amherst as the Ramblers host Yarmouth. Depending on how the games play out Friday, this could be for first place in the South. It’s the seventh and final meeting between these teams in the regular season, with each having won three games so far. Elsewhere, Pictou County makes their final trip of the season to Berwick to face the Wildcats, and St. Stephen visits Campbellton.

Then we wrap up the weekend with three games on Sunday. The final game between Valley and South Shore takes place in Bridgewater. Edmundston travels to St. Stephen to face an Aces squad that has won five of six meetings this season. And then we have another matchup between the teams battling for that final playoff spot in the North as Miramichi visits Grand Falls. The Rapids dropped the first three games before winning the last two, and the teams face off again next weekend as well.

All games can be viewed on HockeyTV.

Date Visitor Home Venue Time
Thu, Feb 21 Truro South Shore Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre 7:00 pm
Thu, Feb 21 Edmundston Pictou County Pictou County Wellness Centre 7:00 pm
Thu, Feb 21 Grand Falls Summerside Credit Union Place 7:00 pm
Fri, Feb 22 South Shore Valley Kings Mutual Century Centre 7:00 pm
Fri, Feb 22 Truro Yarmouth Mariners Centre 7:30 pm
Fri, Feb 22 Edmundston Amherst Amherst Stadium 7:30 pm
Fri, Feb 22 Campbellton Grand Falls E. & P. Sénéchal Centre 7:30 pm
Fri, Feb 22 Summerside Miramichi Miramichi Civic Centre 7:30 pm
Sat, Feb 23 Yarmouth Amherst Amherst Stadium 7:00 pm
Sat, Feb 23 Pictou County Valley Kings Mutual Century Centre 7:00 pm
Sat, Feb 23 St. Stephen Campbellton Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre 7:30 pm
Sun, Feb 24 Edmundston St. Stephen Garcelon Civic Centre 3:00 pm
Sun, Feb 24 Valley South Shore Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre 3:00 pm
Sun, Feb 24 Miramichi Grand Falls E. & P. Sénéchal Centre 3:00 pm