The Avon River Rats skated fast and skated hard when they hosted the Amherst Colts Dec. 16, showing no mercy as they trampled the visitors 7-2.
Ryan Helpard started the scoring off for the home team with 8:25 remaining in the first period. Charles McNeil and Kyle Mclean picked up the assists.
Andy West put the Rats up 2-0 about four minutes later, with helpers going to Jon Dunbar and Sam Ross.
The Colts' Andrew Barron replied on the power-play, assisted by team captain Justin Farrow and Bruce Burdock.
McNeil, assisted by Ross, put the boys up 3-1 with 2:28 remaining on the clock.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in the first period, West struck on the power-play on a pass from Dunbar. The Rats led 4-1 after the first.
Barron, assisted by Gregor Dawe and Farrow, struck about 30 seconds into the middle frame to cut the Rats' lead to two before Ross, from McNeil and Maclean, replied with a goal. As the teams headed to the dressing room, the score remained 5-2.
McNeil wasn't done scoring for the Rats. With less than eight minutes remaining on the clock, McNeil, from Ross and West, went in shorthanded and bested the Colts' netminder.
McNeil then earned his third goal of the night when he tallied one with 4:10 remaining in the period. Assists went to West and team captain Dave Phillips.
Assistant Coach Josh Purcell was pleased with the team's performance.
“We had a couple of forwards — Chuck (Charles) McNeil and Andy West — that played very strong. The team played really good as a team; probably one of the better games we've played,” said Purcell following the game.
“We're starting to come together as a team. We're working hard together. We're starting to gel.”
The Rats accumulated a total of 44 penalty minutes — 20 of which were the result of two 10-minute misconducts, while the Colts had 28 — one of which was a 10-minute misconduct.
Jesse Lawrence earned the win in nets for the Brooklyn-based squad, stopping 43 of 45 shots. Jesse Ogden was tagged with the loss, stopping 25 of 32 shots on goal.
Purcell said Lawrence was strong in nets, and the guys worked hard to limit the Colts' chances.
“If our core shows up every game and keeps working hard I think we can beat anybody in this league,” said Purcell. “We're a blue collar hockey team. We have to work hard for success and if we do that, we will have success.”
The Rats earned one point on the season the night before when they travelled to Spryfield to take on the Silver and Black Attack. The guys forced the game into overtime before losing 4-3.
“We're a blue collar hockey team. We have to work hard for success and if we do that, we will have success.” - Assistant Coach Josh Purcell
Ben Ross, Mclean, and West all scored in the losing effort. Assists went to Mclean, Dunbar, McNeil and Matt Lyttle.
“Last night we worked hard. We played good,” said Purcell Dec. 16. “We probably deserved two points but we got one.”
Coleman Ueffing was in nets for the overtime loss, playing a total of 63:06 minutes and stopping 41 of 45 shots on net. Garret Fancy picked up the win, but only faced a total of 27 shots on net.
“We were heartbroken last night to lose in overtime,” said Purcell. “It was good to see the boys bounce back after that and play really good today.”
The River Rats have two away games scheduled in Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League action before 2012 comes to a close. They take on the South Shore Wild Dec. 21 before a rematch with the Colts on Dec. 29.
The Jr. C team will start 2013 off with a road trip to Barrington to take on the Sea Star Ice Dogs Jan. 5 before hosting the Chester Clippers Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. at the Newport District Arena.