The Pictou County Weeks Crushers will play three games this week in the Maritime Hockey League.
The Crushers must focus on hosting the much-improved St. Stephen Aces on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre before a key match on Saturday in Truro against the surging Bearcats.
The Crushers also have a makeup game to play against the host South Shore Mustangs today.
The Bearcats recently overtook the Yarmouth Mariners to sit in second place by one point, and four points behind the Crushers in the South Division standings heading into this week.
The Crushers stayed ahead of the pack by defeating the Woodstock Slammers 6-2 in their home game on Thursday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre before visiting the Mariners and posting a 6-5 overtime triumph on Saturday.
Two goals by Dylan Riley and one each by Benji Curtis and Michael Dill staked the Crushers to a 4-0 lead through the first period.
Nick Fewer’s goal gave the Crushers a 5-0 lead in the second period when the Crushers limited the Slammers to just four shots.
The Slammers outscored the Crushers 2-1 and outshot them 16-10 in the third period.
Oliver Trachsel got the Crushers’ other goal.
Before Thursday’s game, the Crushers introduced members of their 2015-16 team that captured the Kent Cup, emblematic of the league championship.
The players were welcomed onto the ice with the current roster after receiving their rings prior to the pre-game ceremony. They included Regan Spears, the lanky right-winger who helped the Crushers to the championship and who this year is playing university hockey with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
“It’s awesome,” he said of the ring. “It was well worth the wait and it’s great to be back.”
In Yarmouth, the Crushers overcame a 4-2 deficit in the second period to take a 5-4 lead in the third period, but they needed Dill’s 20th goal of the season 47 seconds into overtime to win the game.
Dill also had three assists, while Ethan Marsh scored twice.
Bradley Kennedy added a goal and two assists, while Jacob Hickey and Keven Larouche also scored.
Kyle Tibbo of the Bearcats has taken over the scoring lead with 32 goals and 30 assists.
Alexis Roy is second with 27 goals and 32 assists, while Dill is third with 20 goals and 37 assists.
Crushers’ defenceman Nathan Sanderson, No. 8, joins forward Dylan Riley’s celebration after scoring his second goal of the first period to help the Crushers to a 4-0 lead. (Goodwin photo)