Ramblers open training camp

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Veteran defenceman Beckwith not returning

The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers have hit the ice in preparation for the 2014-15 MHL season.

The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers have opened their training camp for the upcoming season. The club is going to have a younger look this season after several veterans were traded during the offseason. Workouts continue all week with the first exhibition game on Saturday against Dieppe at the Amherst Stadium.

AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers have parted ways with another veteran player.

Ramblers head coach and general manager Josh Hepditch confirmed during the opening day of training camp Monday that veteran defenceman Kyle Beckwith will not be returning to the hockey club this season.

“Beckwith has decided to stay at home this year. He wasn’t committed to doing the travel this year where we’re adding some extra practices during the week that was going to prevent him from being here. It was a mutual agreement that he not come back,” Hepditch said. “(Serge) Boisvert is back as well as Shane MacDonald and Nick Cass. We also got Andrew Flynn from Swan Valley.”

Beckwith had no goals and 10 assists in 50 games for the Ramblers last season, but was known for his physical play and punishing body checks.

Tanner McCabe, acquired from the Crushers in the offseason, arrived in camp Monday after going to the Victoriaville Tigres camp. McCabe came from the Crushers in a draft day deal along with a first-round pick next year and a sixth-round pick in 2016 for forward Daniel Walsh.

“He’s a hard-nosed big defenceman who’s going to play a big role for us this year,” he said.

The Ramblers’ coach is also hoping Lucas Batt will eventually make his way to camp after being let go by the Quebec Remparts last week. Hepditch said the player has gone home to Newfoundland to consider his options and he’s hoping that he will eventually decide to come to Amherst.

Batt played with Moncton and Quebec in the QMJHL last year as well as with the Dieppe Commandos. Hepditch said the big, 18-year-old winger would be a huge addition to the hockey club.

The Ramblers acquired Batt’s rights in a deal with Dieppe in July that included a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft and sent the rights to Alec Jon Banville and a second rounder the other way.

Hepditch said he was pleased with the first day of on-ice workouts, adding he’s looking forward to working with what will be a younger, but energetic hockey team this season.

“It’s always interesting to see the kids the first day of camp because they’re so excited about trying to make the hockey team,” Hepditch said. “Some guys didn’t see as much ice over the summer as others so it’s a chance to get back on the ice and work to make this hockey club.”

Hepditch, who was hired over the summer to replace former coach Jim Bottomley, said there’s good skill and lots of speed in camp.

He said most of the players he expected in camp have arrived, although there are still eight players in major junior camps, including defenceman Lucas Sangster, who is in Charlottetown, and Jordan King, who has made the Halifax Mooseheads.

“There are a number of players that are on the bubble at major camps and we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen. We should know later this week what their status is going to be,” Hepditch said. “I like what I see here right now and it’s going to get better moving forward.

“We got lots of guys here with lots of jump.”

Three players are in camp from Hepditch’s former team in British Columbia, while there are two players still in the Medicine Hat WHL camp.

The Ramblers opened their exhibition schedule on Saturday at home against the Dieppe Commandos. The club plays in Dieppe on Sunday.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers

Geographic location: AMHERST, Swan Valley, Dieppe Victoriaville Newfoundland Moncton Quebec Charlottetown British Columbia

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