AMHERST – Preparations are continuing for Bill Riley Night at the Amherst Stadium.
The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers will retire the number of the former player, coach and general manager during a pre-game ceremony prior to Saturday’s regular season home finale against the Summerside Western Capitals.
Team president Jim Henwood has announced Amherst Super 8, Amherst Development Limited and Atlantic Windows have come on board as sponsors of the event that will honour Riley, who was a member of the first Junior Ramblers team before going on to play in the National Hockey League with the Washington Capitals as well as in American Hockey League with the Halifax Voyageurs and in Moncton.
Riley coached the Ramblers to their first Atlantic championship in 1989 and was behind the bench when Amherst hosted the Centennial Cup in 1993.
He later coached in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats and retired after coaching the MHL’s Miramichi Timberwolves.
“It is only fitting, during the year we celebrate our 45th anniversary, that the first official sweater retirement be presented to an original Rambler, first to make the NHL and return to his hometown to successfully guide the team,” Henwood said.
A number of former coaches and players for the league are expected in town for the event including both Forbie Kennedy, who coached in Charlottetown and Summerside, and Jamie Kennedy, who coached the Moncton Midland Junior Hawks with Riley.
Others expected to attend the ceremony that will see Riley’s Number 8 hoisted to the rafters of the Amherst Stadium, are longtime referee Bob Best and former Antigonish Bulldogs coach Danny Berry along with Stan Hennigar of Halifax, former NHL coach John Brophy and players Troy Kane, Gilles Maltais, Mark MacFarlane, Chuck Ross and Pat Flynn.
Former Rambler and current New Brunswick scout for the team, Hal Davidson, is co-ordinating the celebration. Davidson said support in the community has been overwhelming and a capacity crowd is expected.
“Bill Riley was a personal mentor of mine when I was playing and he continued to provide leadership and guidance to hundreds of players during and after his playing career,” Davidson said. “In fact, Bill is the perfect mould of the type of player we are recruiting to the current Ramblers’ squad.”
Advance tickets to the game are available at Snipeshow Sports, 198 Church St., Amherst, and at Ken’s Rite Stop on Church Street. Tickets will also be sold during the Ramblers game against the Weeks Crushers on Wednesday.