Amherst hosts Dieppe on Saturday at 7 p.m.
© Darrell Cole – Amherst News
Entering his second season with the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, Kyle Beckwith will be called upon to be a defensive leader for the club. The 19-year-old Salisbury, N.B. native is known for his physical presence on the ice and for making smart decisions with the puck.
AMHERST – Kyle Beckwith knows that all eyes will be on the blueline when the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers begin their regular season next week.
“There’s no question we’re going to have to win some games with our defence early on until we get a few guys to score some goals,” Beckwith said Thursday. “We’re up to the challenge, though. We have some great players on defence and have two solid goalies. I’m pretty confident Jimbo (Jim Bottomley) will be able to find some guys to provide the offence.”
The Ramblers are in action this weekend when they host the Dieppe Commados at the Amherst Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Ramblers are in Dieppe on Sunday for their final pre-season game.
The regular season begins Friday when the Ramblers travel to Kentville to face the Valley Junior Wildcats. The home opener is Saturday, Sept. 13, against Woodstock.
Beckwith is entering his second season with the Ramblers, and after turning a few heads with his thundering open-ice checks he’s looking to add a little offence.
“All through minor hockey I was known as a defensive defenceman and a big hitter, but in my last year midget I had quite a few points,” he said. “I have a good shot and would like to add a bit more offence to the team this season, but my focus will be on looking after my own end of the rink.”
Beckwith focused on conditioning coming into camp this season and believes that will help his stamina on the ice. Losing considerable time to a broken hand last season affected his conditioning on the ice and he found it difficult catching up when he returned.
Bottomley said Beckwith has been one of his most dependable defenceman and he’s expecting big things from the second-year player.
“He’s a steady player in his own end and makes good decisions with the puck,” Bottomley said. “He does a good job getting the puck out his own end and his physical style is very important to the hockey club.”
Heading into the weekend, the Ramblers are down to 26 players and Bottomley hopes to have the roster set before Friday’s season-opener. Jesse Hamer, the club’s top pick in June, left the team earlier this week to return to the Dartmouth Subways Major Midget team while Bottomley withdrew his waiver claim on forward Brennan Saulnier, after speaking to the player’s parents.
Saulnier was traded by Woodstock to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, but the Ramblers claimed him on waivers in hopes of enticing the goal scorer to Amherst.
Bottomley said adding some offence continues to be one of his biggest priorities as the club gets ready for the season, but admitted early on the team will have to rely on its defensive play to win hockey games.