The new coach of the Amherst Ramblers is busy recruiting players after trading four veterans since taking over the reigns in May.
AMHERST – Josh Hepditch is not looking to unload anymore 20-year-old players just for the sake of making trades.
A week after sending forward Ross Martin to the Yarmouth Mariners for future considerations, the head coach of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers said players like Kyle Beckwith and Serge Boisvert will be valuable members of the team this season.
“I’m trading 20-year-olds because I don’t want to have any 20-year-olds on the team and both Kyle and Serge will be leaders on our hockey club and they’re players that teams have asked us about,” Hepditch said. “As it stands now they will be here with us at training camp, but if I get a very good offer for either one of them I will consider moving them like I would consider moving any asset on the hockey club.”
Since taking over as coach of the Ramblers, Hepditch has begun putting his stamp on the team by moving Martin and fellow forwards Danny Walsh and Ryan Caswell as well as defenceman Willie MacDonald.
Hepditch said the return for those moves provides the potential for a very strong club that will host the 2016 Fred Page Cup if Amherst is successful in its bid for the eastern Canadian championship tournament that Truro hosted two seasons ago.
“I don’t like to use the word rebuilding because we’re not rebuilding. Will we be younger? Yes, we’ll be younger, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be competitive,” Hepditch said. “A lot of younger teams are successful. I don’t accept the notion that just because you’re younger you’re not competitive. That’s not going to be the case.”
The Ramblers’ coach said he will be attending a Hit the Ice aboriginal hockey camp being put on by former NHL player John Chabot and coach Ted Nolan. The event will feature 25 of the top young aboriginal players in Canada. He’s hoping to steer some of those players toward Amherst.
He’s also talking to a number of free agents across the region and from the Western Hockey League.
“I have a couple of players who are going to the Tigers camp, who could very well be in Amherst if they don’t make it in Medicine Hat. I’m not going to bring a player across the country for the sake of it. I’m going to be selective and make sure we get quality,” Hepditch said.
Along with Amherst goalie Evan MacKenzie, who Hepditch drafted in June, Springhill’s Doug Barton has also been asked to come to training camp. Barton played last season with the Weeks Major Midgets out of Pictou County.
Hepditch expects to arrive in Amherst in early August and hopes to purchase a house here soon after that. Camp opens in late August.