Avon River Rats fighting Metro Jaguars for first place finish


Published on January 25, 2017

River Rats goaltender Carter McMullin stops the puck at the Hants Exhibition Arena.

©Colin Chisholm

WINDSOR, N.S. - The Avon River Rats now have six games left in the regular season and the fight for first place has become extremely tight between the Rats and Metro Jaguars.

The Jaguars have capitalized on the games against the River Rats and improved their record to 17-4-0 following a Jan. 22 game in Windsor, when they upended the Rats 3-2 in overtime to move to within two points.

Avon River Rats head coach Matt Lyttle said the game on Jan. 22 was a well-fought game between two evenly matched teams.

“It was a pretty good hockey game. They went up with one-man advantage with 15 seconds left in the third – four on three – and they had a pretty good opportunity to score and ended up capitalizing,” Lyttle said. “All in all it was a pretty good game, just came up a little short.”

Lyttle said they currently stand in second place, with the Metro Jaguars overtaking them during the last game.

It’s currently a three-way race for the top spot in the Nova Scotia Regional Junior Hockey League (Junior C) between the Avon River Rats, Metro Jaguar and Spryfield Attack.

Lyttle said the River Rats are having a “slow January,” losing some of the fire they had early in the season.

“I thought our goaltender (Carter McMullin) played really well,” he said.

Lyttle said they picked up a couple of players at the trade deadline that played for the Liverpool Junior B team.

“Justin MacLellan, another one of our new players, he had a really good game, picking it up,” he said. “He had a pretty big goal near the start to get us going.”

Less than three minutes into the third period, Metro tied it at 2-2 to send the game into overtime.

It took the Jaguars only 1:30 to score in overtime to win 3-2.

“We had a good start to the year, I think we’re just in a bit of a rut right now,” he said. “There’s no panic from the coaches or anything like that. We just had some bad results; we just have to dig deep and play harder.”

Meanwhile Bedford, Eastern Shore and Cumberland-Colchester are in an all-out battle for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Tyler Comeau attempts to defend his team’s net during the game against the Metro Jaguars.

©Colin Chisholm

Avon River Rats player Joel MacNeil, No. 14, makes a shot on net during the Jan. 22 game against the Metro Jaguars.
Colin Chisholm

Other recent games

The River Rats were once again involved in a tight one-goal game on Jan. 15, with a 3-2 win over the Spryfield Attack at Hants Exhibition Arena.

During that game, Mitchell Urquhart put the Rats up 1-0 after the opening period on an assist from Tyler Comeau before Logan Cleveland scored just 1:43 into the second to put the Rats up 2-0. 

The lead did not last as the Attack came back with a pair of goals, one of them just eight seconds after the River Rats went up 2-0 to send the game into the third period tied at 2.

The River Rats' Taran Bailey was sent to the penalty box for roughing with 4:03 left in the contest. The Rats shrugged the penalty off and Kyle Armsworthy scored short-handed with 2:44 left in the game to give the Rats a 3-2 win.

The game was a low-key penalty affair until the game winner was scored and after that, several penalties were called in the final 1:57 of the contest.

On Jan. 14, the River Rats were stopped cold by the Jaguars 4-2.

The Avon River Rats will close out their regular season Feb. 8, but will play six games before then, with four games against the bottom half of the league standings.

~ With notes from Colin Chisholm

 

Upcoming Games

Jan. 28 — Avon River Rats vs Spryfield Attack — at Spryfield, 8 p.m.

Jan. 29 — Avon River Rats vs Cumberland/Colchester Colts — at Windsor, 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 — Avon River Rats vs Eastern Shore Thunder —  at Eastern Shore, 8 p.m.

Feb. 5 — Avon River Rats vs Cumberland/Colchester Colts —  at  Windsor, 7 p.m

Feb. 6 — Avon River Rats vs Metro Jaguars — at Halifax, 10 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Avon River Rats vs Bedford Wolverines — at Windsor, TBA