AMHERST – It couldn’t have been scripted any better for Josh Pugsley.
Coming off a rookie season that saw him claim the Nova Scotia Major Midget AAA Hockey League scoring title as a member of the Pictou County Weeks Midgets, the 15-year-old Amherst native was selected in the third round by the Moncton Wildcats during the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft on Saturday.
“It’s an amazing feeling to hear your name called,” Pugsley said Sunday while returning home. “It’s great to be drafted by Moncton and being close to home and family and friends makes it that much more special.”
It’s the second year in a row someone from Cumberland County has been taken high in the draft. Last year, Springhill’s Bronson Beaton was taken in the draft by the Memorial Cup champion Shawinigan, only to be dealt to Cape Breton in January.
Heading into the draft, Pugsley wasn’t sure where he would end up. He had discussions with 11 teams leading up to Saturday and sort of figured he would be heading somewhere in Quebec, possibly to Rouyn-Noranda.
He also didn’t think he would hear his name until later in the draft. While some projected him as a potential third round pick, he was also being touted as a fifth-round selection.
“To go 30 picks earlier than I was supposed to sort of proved some people wrong,” said, Pugsley.
Instead, he was the Wildcats’ third pick behind Gabriel Gagne of Nord Espoir, Que. and Tanner McCabe of Charlottetown, going 45th overall to a club that could be in a position to take a run at the Maritimes Division championship this season.
“Moncton is going to have a very strong team next year and I didn’t think I was in their plans. I figured I would be going somewhere in Quebec,” Pugsley said. “When I heard Moncton call my name it all worked out. “
Speaking to Moncton officials after his name was called, Pugsley said they told him they liked his playing style.
“They like the energy and speed I bring to the game and my ability to win battles,” he said, adding a strong showing at the QMJHL identification camp helped improve his stock.
Pugsley has been busy working out in the gym prior to the draft and plans to increase his efforts leading up to the opening of training camp in August.
“I going to work out with some of the veterans in Moncton every day. I also got a booklet of the offseason workout that I have to do to prepare,” said Pugsley, who played his minor hockey with the Cumberland County Minor Hockey Association and major bantam with the Truro Bearcats prior to last season. “I’m at the gym every day and both nights during the weekend.”
Pugsley said he’s looking forward to making the Wildcats, although he admits it’s going to be a tough task considering the team has the first overall pick in the Euro draft and picked up two forwards from the Shawinigan Cataractes to complete the Brandon Gormley trade.
“I’m going to have to put my best foot forward and show the team that I deserve to be there,” he said.
Pugsley will be a territorial pick of the Amherst Ramblers in Sunday’s Maritime Junior Hockey League draft in Yarmouth. If he doesn’t stick in Moncton, Pugsley said he would have no problem playing with the hometown Ramblers.