Consistency and discipline will be key in second half
The Amherst Ramblers will be buyers at the Maritime Junior Hockey League trading deadline on Jan. 10.
Despite a tough start to the season, Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers coach Jim Bottomley is pleased with his team's progress through the first part of the schedule. At the Christmas break, the Ramblers sit in fourth place in the Eastlink Division.
AMHERST – As he looks back at the first part of the season, Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers’ head coach Jim Bottomley is pleased with what he sees.
The Ramblers have entered the Christmas break firmly established in fourth place in the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Eastlink Division with both third and second spot within striking distance.
“I’m very pleased with how we’ve come along. We didn’t have the start we wanted, losing our first four games, but after that we’ve been more than respectable,” Bottomley said. “For the most part, the guys are competing every game and working hard every practice. They want to get better every day.”
While he’d like to a little higher in the standings, he said the top of the division is so close that a strong stretch out of the gate in January could have his club competing for the division’s regular season banner.
That’s why he will be looking to add players at the trading deadline on Jan. 10. Bottomley said he wants to add one or two scorers up front and a good puck-moving defenceman for the back end.
“We’ve done a great job cutting down on our goals against, but we’ve had some injuries on defence. It would be nice to have another asset back there so we won’t be shorthanded on defence when we have injuries. We need a little more depth back there, but we want to add a quality defenceman. We don’t want to add a body just for the sake of adding a body. We’d also like to find a couple of guys who can score consistently. We’re physical enough and have good size and we’re strong in nets.”
Bottomley said the sponsorship from the Maltby-Casey Group and CIBC as well as the excellent job the board is doing at fundraising gives him the ability to add players instead of being sellers – as was the case for several years before he arrived.
The playoff experience many of his players gained two years ago and again last year, when the Ramblers went to the divisional final, should prove pivotal down the stretch and into the playoffs this year.
“For the last couple of years we’ve been in the mix. It’s a sign that things have changed. We’re always in a position to compete instead of selling,” he said. “It helps when you know you’re going to be competitive every year.”
Bottomley said discipline and consistency are two things he will be looking for when the second part of the season begins on Jan. 4 against the Valley Wildcats.