Ramblers go younger at the MHL draft

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Trade Walsh, MacDonald to Crushers

The Amherst Ramblers will be much younger in 2014-15 after trading two veterans on draft day in Summerside.

Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers’ coach Josh Hepditch (left) makes former coach and GM Corey Crocker and assistant coach Tim Ripley help out.

AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers are going to be a lot younger next season.

“The draft went well. We had targeted so many players and I believe we got about 80 per cent of what we targeted,” coach and general manager Josh Hepditch said. “We had a plan going in and we stuck to our guns. We got pretty much all the player we wanted.”

The Ramblers dealt two major cogs in its lineup during Saturday’s Maritime Junior Hockey League draft in Summerside, and picked up a number of players Hepditch hopes will join the club over the next few seasons.

First, Hepditch dealt forward Daniel Walsh to the Pictou Weeks Crushers for defenceman Tanner McCabe, the Crushers’ first-round pick on Saturday and its sixth round pick in 2015.

“Next year, as you can see by trades, we’re going to be younger. We won’t have an older team next season, especially now that we’ve put in to host the Fred Page Cup. You can’t hope you have a good team, you have to build a good team and that’s my plan. We need to get young guys here and change the culture that was  here last season,” he said. “Walsh is an elite player and I’d love to have him in our lineup next season, but at the end of the day he’s only going to be here for one more year. If you can move a guy like that and bring in some assets, that’s how you build a championship team.”

Hepditch said McCabe is only 17 and could be a cornerstone of the defence for several years. He’s expected to attend the Victoriaville Tigers camp in August.

It later traded veteran defenceman Willie MacDonald to the Crushers for the rights to defenceman Ryan Yould (two goals, nine assists in 26 games with Cole Harbour Wolfpack) and a third round pick next year.

MacDonald said he was disappointed with some of the criticism Hepditch was receiving on social media and said the fans need to give the new coach a chance.

“Josh is going to bring a championship team to Amherst. This guy is 100 per cent class,” MacDonald said in a message to the paper. “There wasn’t enough turnover from last year to have a lot of success this season. He’ll be the guy to bring a winner to Amherst.”

“I know Willie (MacDonald) is going to be hard to replace, but now he gets to go to Pictou and have a shot at a championship and we got some good long-term assets in return,” Hepditch said.

When he took over as coach, Hepditch noticed the cupboards were bare in terms of draft picks and through a series of deals he’s managed to reacquire a number of picks for next year’s draft.

Hepditch said King has a shot of making the Halifax Mooseheads this season, but he expects he will be in a Rambler uniform if he doesn’t stick with a Halifax lineup that’s going to be rebuilding this season.

He’s also confident Dumaresque could be here this year at the earliest or next season.

“Every player has a Plan A and a Plan B and he’s a kid that’s hoping to get some attention from the higher levels. Every kid looks at their options and we hope to land him. We did take a chance on him,” Hepditch said. “If we get both him and Jordan that’s two top flight hockey players in our lineup.”

Hepditch says Murphy will be an elite defenceman and could step into the league as a 16-year-old. He said he’s an excellent skater and puck-handler and he’d like to have him in the lineup eventually.

The new coach is also keeping the door open for several players the club has in the QMJHL, including Amherst’s Josh Pugsley, who is entering his second season with the Moncton Wildcats; and Springhill’s Bronson Beaton, who was recently traded to Acadie-Bathurst after two seasons in Cape Breton and Shawinigan.

Now that the draft is over, Hepditch is going back out west to move his family to Amherst and he’s also running a hockey camp in Montreal this summer. He said he’ll be talking to lots of players, encouraging them to come to Amherst over the next two seasons.

While the team will be younger, he said the Ramblers will still be competitive.

“We’re building and I don’t think you have to be older to be competitive,” he said. “Just because we’re younger doesn’t mean we can’t be competitive. The kids that come here will know what we’re building toward and they are going to want to be part of it. Plus, there will be some free agents and other moves we’ll be making to improve our hockey club. Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to be competitive. You look at the Moncton Wildcats last year, they were supposed to be rebuilding but they had a very competitive hockey club and took the Armada, one of the best teams in the league, to six games in the first round.”

Hepditch also pointed to the example of the Truro Bearcats, saying it’s a club that has built consistently through the draft and augmented the lineup with some free agent signings. That’s the model he intents to follow with the Ramblers.

“When you host the Fred Page Cup do you want to have a team that’s going to be competitive or a team that’s just going to be there and get its but kicked? You don’t want to do that, you’re representing the Maritime Junior Hockey League and you want to put your best foot forward,” he said. “To have a half decent team this year with Willie and Walsh there would be OK, but to have a competitive team the year after when you’re hosting would that much more difficult. You have to build and you have to get guys in to get some experience. We brought guys in that will be huge pieces of the puzzle.”

Hepditch is also working to build his coaching staff, adding Tim Ripley was at the draft table on Saturday and he plans to speak to Jamie Matthews about returning. Hepditch said he brought in former coach and GM Corey Crocker to help with the draft, but he won’t be on the coaching staff this season.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

 

Ramblers’ Draft Picks

1st Round – Jordan King, F, Western Kings, NL

1st Round – (Acquired from Crushers) Jordan Dumaresque, F, Cole Harbour

2nd Round – Andrew Murphy, D, RNS Riverhawks

4th Round – Conal McNamaara, F,

6th Round – Cole Hackett, F, Kensington

7th Round – Cole Hachey, D, Fredericton

9th Round – Andrew Gass, F, RNS Riverhawks

10th Round – Evan MacKenzie, G, ARHS Vikings

Territorial Pics

11th Round – Jake Barter, D, RNS Riverhawks

12th Round – Johnny Jones, F, Halifax

 

Organizations: Maritime Junior Hockey League, Victoriaville Tigers

Geographic location: AMHERST, Summerside, Jordan Pictou Cape Breton Shawinigan Montreal Kings Kensington Fredericton

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Vince Kennie
    June 18, 2014 - 14:47

    The comments on here are somewhat startling. I agree with the positive ones, let" give this team a chance to jell under the new coach, by Christmas time, there hopefully be more of a positive attitude with the commenters on this means. "GO RAMBLERS GO"

    • Hockeyfan
      June 19, 2014 - 04:53

      I'm a hockey fan who likes to follow the league somewhat too and more than willing to give him a chance if it is infact Josh hepditch who is running the team. With that being said, I can not over look the events of this weekend and think the furture does not look as bright as the "loyal" fans may hope. Having all your 20 year olds on the trading block during the trade weekend can't be healthy- so you can expect they will not be here by christmas. Maybe if people actually looked at what we gained or better yet what we lost over the weekend you might not be so quick to jump on the opions of other who are not jumping for joy with the new GM of the Rams. The word on the street is that, "the fun is over in Amherst". Sorry if this offends anyone.

  • loyal fan
    June 18, 2014 - 12:58

    So many critics! Loyal Rams fans support the decisions of our executive who give endless hours to this organization! We love our Rams, and hate to see anyone get traded, but I for one am more than willing to see what Mr. Hepditch can do! I remember an uproar back in 2005 when Rene George was traded, that's when Crocker brought in Andrew Sweetland , who now holds our points record, for the upcoming season, and we won the Bent Division title that year. Give this guy a chance...

  • Realistic
    June 18, 2014 - 06:59

    Real 'fans' don't stay home or coerce for half-price tickets when 'their' team goes through personnel changes.

  • outsider
    June 18, 2014 - 02:17

    Well Coach, you cant say they don't care anyhow! keep your head up coach its a great place to be despite what you read!

  • Interesting
    June 17, 2014 - 13:15

    So are all of you 'Comment posters' Hockey fans or do you just enjoy complaining and being negative?? You are saying you're not attending the rink this year because of trades! This might be the most entertaining hockey club the town has seen in 20 years... Its June people. Too early to judge. I realize these guys were good players..... but good players get traded from time to time. Member a guy named Gretzky? He was pretty good... he got traded a few times I think!! Best of luck Ramblers, sounds like a fun start.

  • Hopeful
    June 17, 2014 - 06:23

    Hopefully the Ramblers will cut their ticket prices in half this season to keep fans. I have a family of four but I won't be there unless ticket prices are dropped. The fans shouldn't be expected to pay full price to watch an experiment. Be prepared to have mostly parents and billets (who don't pay) sitting in the stand if something doesn't change.

    • WRONG
      June 17, 2014 - 08:16

      There will always be paying customers for the Rambler games. There is a group of about 15-20 who will always show up for the beer room regardless of the price of admission. That is a good start.

  • concerned
    June 16, 2014 - 21:30

    The goal should be to keep us competitive and keep a team in Amherst. There is no way that this team - or what is left of it can possibly become a Fred Page Cup worthy host in just over a year. There are some nice draft picks - for sure - but that is all they are - promising prospects for down the road. Amherst would need a monstrous bank roll after this season- even then - still highly unlikely. I'm no NHL coach or GM but it seems like the executives have placed an awful lot of trust in someone who has not coached at this level before.

  • Marty McFly
    June 16, 2014 - 21:00

    Anyone know what year it is in Amherst NS right now?? 1989-90.... Does that year mean anything to anyone?? Other than it was a long, long time ago?!?!? That's right, it was the last time the Ramblers won the league. Critics - Stop threatening to not attend games. Crowds are down anyway, it doesn't have to do with the coach or even the team, its the economy!! I know there are a lot of people in that town who like to 'drink the kool-aid'..... (or the 'JIMBO Juice' if you will), but the truth is JIMBO was given a championship team and couldn't get it done. (Even with all of his past successes back in 1932, or whenever he won those cups). Its time to start the process again. Hopefully this executive will let the new GM / Coach see his plan through to fruition! I for one am excited to follow this team this season!!

  • Marty McFly
    June 16, 2014 - 20:56

    Anyone know what year it is in Amherst NS right now?? 1989-90.... Does that year mean anything to anyone?? Other than it was a long, long time ago?!?!? That's right, it was the last time the Ramblers won the league. Critics - Stop threatening to not attend games. Crowds are down anyway, it doesn't have to do with the coach or even the team, its the economy!! I know there are a lot of people in that town who like to 'drink the kool-aid'..... (or the 'JIMBO Juice' if you will), but the truth is JIMBO was given a championship team and couldn't get it done. (Even with all of his past successes back in 1932, or whenever he won those cups). Its time to start the process again. Hopefully this executive will let the new GM / Coach see his plan through to fruition! I for one am excited to follow this team this season!!

  • shocked
    June 16, 2014 - 16:43

    Mr. Hepditch we are a small community with some very loyal fans. When I read that Jamie Matthews a gifted hockey talent and assistant coach was not at the draft table after giving three years to this hockey club but yet you choose to have Mr. Crocker who has been proven unsuccessful in his hockey stints is not only completely disrespectful to Mr. Matthews but your choice is alarming to the future of the club . Let us pray that the toonie draws continues to be successful to subsidise the lost revenue in fan support and sponsorship that most are expecting by the recent turn of events .

  • Another Thought
    June 16, 2014 - 14:32

    Wow...from the comment section I'd say we have some serious NHL GM / Coaching experience here! Give them a couple years and see what direction they go...a lot of jumping to conclusions with seeing the result.

  • People
    June 16, 2014 - 14:30

    Is the goal to build and win a championship someday or lose in first round of playoffs every year? Look at the models of any winning teams, It is not hard to figure out!! Give this guy a chance to execute his plan, thats what they hired him for!!! His team hasnt even stepped on the ice and you have them written off already..... ya, great town to play for!!

    • ramfan
      June 16, 2014 - 20:03

      This coach never saw the guys he traded on the ice if he did he would not have traded them,two gifted hockey player's that the ram fans loved,what chance did they have,if he keeps this up we won't have any twenty year olds left,now I asked?who is going to lead this team on the ice?

  • Vance
    June 16, 2014 - 12:22

    It is sad to see the progress and hard work of the last couple of years be thrown away at whim. Amherst was three or four players away from being a real contender and generating some serious funds during playoffs regardless of what this article might lead you to believe but now will most likely not place this year. Giving up the two best players during the draft and not waiting until the proper time to get the most value is an elementary mistake which is costly. Three teams have placed bids for the Fred Page Cup and none to date have tanked the team as Amherst did this weekend in "HOPES" of landing the Fred Page Cup. It is my opinion that inexperience is the theme here .I can't imagine how the town and county can be expected to assist the Ramblers franchise in the future when the Ramblers have by their own accord jeopardized any financial gain that playoff gates would generate in our immediate future .

  • ramfan
    June 15, 2014 - 18:22

    Can't believe what has happened this week-end,trading willie and Daniel ,don't they know they need experienced player's that have played on this team?Another thing how come all of our good player's end up with the crushers?What is the connection here,yes I am a ram fan but don't know for how much longer.

    • carlos
      June 16, 2014 - 09:27

      rams had a chance to go far this year in the playoffs and make money but now they wont make the playoffs and lose money if you got the fred page cup which I doubt hard to bring in players with no money I will not be attending the games this year

  • Darkdaysahead
    June 15, 2014 - 18:18

    5 days ago we read where all players are returning and today we have Daniel Welsh and Willie MacDonald gone two of the best on the team....hmmm...no where in the article did I read that Amherst lost two of it's best possible assets (Sisco and o'Brien) like they have but instead we read of gaining 2 possible maybes'. Why would Corey Crocker be at the draft table and Jamie Matthews has yet to be contacted - how is that for lack of respect from a jr. b coach??? IMO, Crocker had his day with the Ramblers. Something smells ....Plenty of teams build for Fred Page but they don't have fire sales.