© Dave Mathieson - Cumberland News Now
Steady improvement is the goal for Amherst's Josh Pugsley, who is playing his first season in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats.
AMHERST - Playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League can be a grind but Amherst's Josh Pugsley likes the challenge.
"I like it for sure," said the 17-year-old. "It's been really fun and our team is getting better as the season progresses, so everything is going really good."
Pugsley joined the Moncton Wildcats at the beginning of this season after playing with the Maritime Hockey League's Amherst Ramblers last year.
He says the move to the Q has improved his game.
"The game is a lot faster and the guys are a lot stronger," said the centerman. "You just have to learn how to battle more and think quicker on the ice."
Pugsley is known for his speed and said his speed is improving.
"There's some quick guys in the league but my speed has gotten better so I'm still quite fast (in comparison)," he said.
Pugsley has two goals and three assists in 34 games so far in his rookie season with the Wildcats, and is looking forward to the New Year.
"My shot and scoring is where I'd like to improve and everything else can be worked on a little bit as well," said Pugsley. "I just want to get better throughout the year and help my team."
The Wildcats currently sit in second in the Telus Maritimes Division and with a record of 20-17-0-2 are 10th in the overall league standings.
"We have a good group of guys," said Pugsley. "Everybody wants to win and everybody focuses on winning.
"Also, the coaching staff is great. They want everybody to get better each day," he added. "They push everybody, so there's nothing to complain about there."
Pugsley had about 20 extra hockey games tagged to his schedule this season after he made the jump from the Ramblers to the Wildcats.
"There's a lot of travel," said Pugsley. "We're on the road a lot but our bus driver is awesome. He gets us to where were going and gets us there on time."
Pugsley attended Amherst Regional High School last year but this year he is attending Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton.
"It's not the same as Amherst (Regional High School) but it's alright, it gets the job done."
Despite his tight schedule, Pugsley says he's doing well in school.
"It's not that hard to keep your marks up, you just have to use your time wisely and study whenever you get the chance."
Also, he is billeting with Hal Davidson, who is a former Amherst Ramblers coach and now scouts for the Ramblers, but Pugsley doesn't spend a lot of time at his billets.
"I come home from the rink, go to bed and start over the next day," said the 17-year-old.
One big difference between playing in Moncton and playing in Amherst is the size of the crowds. Instead of playing in front of one or two thousand fans at Amherst Stadium, Pugsley often plays in front of four or five thousand fans at Moncton Coliseum.
"It was kind of nerve-wracking but I've got used to the bigger crowds, so it's pretty easy now," he said with a laugh.