Club deep in goal and on defence
The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers open training camp with registration on Sunday. Players hit the ice on Monday with the first exhibition game in Truro on Thursday.
AMHERST – There are some big holes to fill, but as the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers open training camp on Sunday head coach Jim Bottomley is confident his club will be in the thick of things.
The 2013-14 season begins with registration at the Amherst Stadium on Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m., while the players hit the ice for the first time on Monday at 9 a.m.
“It certainly seems like a short summer, but I don’t mind that. Hopefully the summer will be even shorter next year,” Bottomley said Thursday. “I’m looking forward to getting back at it. I’ve been talking to the returning guys and they’re all set. It’s going to be a great camp with some great competition.”
Entering camp, the Ramblers expect to be very strong on the blueline and in goal. Jamie Bishop, Willie MacDonald, Ben MacDonald, Cam McDonald and Kyle Beckwith are returning, along with Robert Davis, who saw action at forward and on defence last year.
Battling for a spot on the blueline will be Lucas Sangster, who was the club’s only territorial pick in June’s midget draft.
With Chase Marchand being released by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, he and third-year goalie Richard Tingley will give the club one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the league.
The big question mark will be up front, where the club’s top five scorers from last year – Kody Orr, Maxime Richard, Ben Berisha, Jeff MacPherson and Mitch O’Neill – have all graduated, while Danny Harquail – who is eligible to return – is exploring his education options in Ontario and may not return.
Amherst’s Josh Pugsley, who had 30 points in his rookie season last year, is in the Moncton Wildcats camp and is expected to stick with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team.
Coming back are Brock Morrison and Brett Shute, who were strong in the playoffs last season, as well as Ryan Caswell and Shawn Wright.
Amherst will also have forward Damon McEachern in camp after picking him up in a trade with the Valley Wildcats at the draft.
The team also announced the signing earlier this week of 6’5”, 235-pound forward Blake Millman, while Travis Howe was acquired from Swan Valley in July. Howe is presently in the Charlottetown Islanders’ training camp.
“We’re out there looking for a couple of guys who can put the puck in the net. We might have to make a few moves after camp gets started. We’ll see what our needs are and make some moves to improve the hockey club,” Bottomley said.
Heading into the season, Bottomley sees this year playing out a lot like the 2012-13 season with Amherst, Truro, Yarmouth and the Weeks Crushers in the hunt for the division title, although he believes the Valley Wildcats will be much improved this season after moving out of Dartmouth.
The Ramblers open their pre-season schedule in Truro on Thursday before coming home to play the Bearcats on Saturday, Aug. 31.
The vastly-improved Dieppe Commandos are in Amherst on Sept. 7 before traveling to Dieppe on Sept. 8.
Amherst opens the regular season on Sept. 13 in Kentville against the Valley Wildcats. The home opener is the following night in Amherst against the Woodstock Slammers.
In other team news, there has finally been a winner in the Ramblers’ weekly Toonie Draw. Ralph Milner of Amherst won $6,330 in the Wednesday draw.
The Ramblers are also looking for billets for the upcoming season. For more information on becoming a billet, contact Kim LePage at 667-1956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club will also be selling season tickets at the stadium from Monday to Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.