Bottomley impressed with early camp performance

Darrell Cole
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Ramblers to make first cuts Wednesday night

Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers' assistant coach Jamie Matthews watches forwards go through a drill in training camp action.

AMHERST – It has only been a day into training camp and already Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach Jim Bottomley is noticing a pleasant trend.

“The skill level is continuing to improve, I like what I’m seeing,” Bottomley said Tuesday. “Things were much better today than they were yesterday and I only expect they’ll continue to improve as we move through camp.”

Forty-four players are vying for spots on the 2013-14 Ramblers and Bottomley is expecting to make his first cuts tonight when the club hosts an inter-squad game at the Amherst Stadium from 7 to 9 p.m.

"I wanted the guys to know from the very beginning that this will be a team that works hard every night. It's something that we want to get into their mind in training camp. Those that don't accept that will be the ones that don't stick around," Bottomley said.

One player Bottomley would like to entice to camp is veteran forward Michael Clarke, who left the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Tuesday for family reasons. It’s possible he may play with the Acadia Axemen of the AUHC.

“I’m going to be talking to him about considering Amherst. He would be a huge asset for our hockey club,” Bottomley said. “He would be our top scorer, if not one of the top players in the league. He’s a 20-year-old forward with a tremendous upside and if we can get him he’d make our hockey club that much stronger.”

The 6’2”, 209-pound left-winger had 19 goals and 19 assists in 67 games with the Screaming Eagles last season, his second in Cape Breton. He has also played with Blainville-Boisbrand and the former Montreal Juniors.

He played a few games with the Ramblers as a 16-year-old four years ago before being drafted by Montreal.

The Ramblers, who lost in the Bent Division final in six games to the eventually Fred Page Cup champion Truro Bearcats, are expected to be solid in goal and on defence this season. Both Chase Marchand and Richard Tingley are back in camp between the pipes along with five returning defenceman.

Jamie Bishop is looking forward to his third season with the club.

"It's great to be back with the guys. Summer break was good but I'm excited to be back," Bishop said. "I think we have the best defensive group if we come to play every night. We just have to make a few additions up front and we'll be a hard hockey club to play against."

Bottomley said he was impressed with some of the younger players in camp and expects a few surprises up front. He will also be looking to make a few moves heading into the opening of the regular season on Sept. 13 against the Valley Wildcats.

The home opener is Sept. 14 against Woostock.

The Ramblers open their exhibition schedule on Thursday in Truro before returning to the stadium on Saturday to host the Bearcats at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Bent Division

Geographic location: Amherst Stadium, Cape Breton, Montreal Truro

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