AMHERST – The process of restocking the Amherst Ramblers begins Saturday when the club attends the Maritime Junior Hockey League draft in Yarmouth – the same place it lost a heart-breaking decision to the Mariners in the seventh game of the Bent Division final series.
Entering the draft, the Ramblers face the huge task of rebuilding its core of forwards, most of whom have played their final game in the purple and white.
“We’d like to make a couple of moves to add a couple of experienced forwards,” coach and general manager Jim Bottomley said Thursday. “Our main concentration will be up front, where we lost our top two lines.”
The Ramblers pick eighth in the draft and have eight selections to make. The club has already picked Amherst’s Josh Pugsley as its territorial pick and will add a pick before the fourth round as its second territorial selection.
As he enters the draft, Bottomley said he will be looking for some players who can step in right away and he will also be making some moves via the trade route to improve the hockey club.
Gone are leading scorers Jordan Escott, Brandon MacLean, locals Justin Matthews and Shane O’Bryne as well as defenceman Ryan Matheson and goalie Kody Blois.
With Richard Tingley eligible to return between the pipes and a strong nucleus of defencemen expected to be back, Bottomley said the pieces are already in place to build another strong team. The key, he said, will be adding some assets up front as well as another big defenceman.
The club has several previous draft choices pegged to come to camp in August and be on the team once the regular season. It also has several assets who played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, including Mitchell Maynard, who won a Memorial Cup with Shawinigan a few weeks ago.
“We don’t intend to rebuild and we are not looking at this as a rebuilding effort. We have to stay competitive to keep the interest up,” Bottomley said. “We will be looking to draft some kids who can step in and play right now and ticker with the lineup to add a few more players later.
“We’re not going to sit back. It’s our 45th anniversary and we’re going to be there in the thick of things.”
The events begin today with the league’s annual general meeting at the Rodd Grand Hotel and the Jed Ritcey golf tournament. The draft takes place the NSCC Burridge Campus.
1st – Jesse MacInnis, Cape Breton West
2nd – Willie MacDonald, Cape Breton West
3rd – Zach Taylor, Notre Dame
4th – Jeff Krichew, Dartmouth
5th – Brandon Parker, Valley
6th – Jaret Collins, Pictou
7th – Jonathan Boutin, Valley
8th – Liam O’Brien, Rimouski
9th – Kyle Beckwith, Moncton
10th – Tyler MacLeod, Cape Breton West
Territorial – Bronson Beaton, Pictou and Thomas Daley, Fredericton*
1st – Cameron MacDonald, Dartmouth
2nd – Richard Tingle, Halifax
3rd – Brett Shute, Tri-Pen
4th – Jamie Bishop, Saint John
5th – Chris Blackwood, Rothesay-Netherwood
6th – Blake Millman, Charlottetown
7th – Mathieu Caron – Mathieu Martin High School
8th – Adam Jones, Fredericton
9th – Ben MacDonald, Rothesay-Netherwood
10th – Danny Wicks, St. John’s
Territorial – Aaron Hoyles, Dartmouth and Ryan Penney, Dartmouth*
* Second territorial pick deferred to end of third round