AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers held their 2018, year-end banquet Wednesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Amherst.
Team captain Jordan King wrapped up his junior hockey career with four Ramblers awards; MVP, top scorer, fans choice, and players choice. King lead the Amherst Ramblers on the regular-season scoreboard with 78 points, 28 goals and 50 assists in 50 games, and added three goals and six assists in seven playoff games against the South Shore Lumberjacks.
King is one of eight 20-year-old players who won’t be back with the Ramblers next season. Jeff LeBlanc, Ramblers coach and general manager, thanked them for their service to the Ramblers organization.
“I don’t look at just what they do on the ice, I look at what they’ve done off the ice as well,” said LeBlanc. “Just two days ago Jordan King stopped to play ball hockey with a fan while he was driving through Amherst. I don’t teach that stuff, that’s something you have to have and has to be in you.”
LeBlanc joined the Ramblers three years ago, and several departing players have been with the team nearly as long, or longer.
“Layton Parsons has been here two years. I’ve coached Lucas Sangster for three years now. He was here my first year when times weren’t so great and we weren’t making the playoffs, and I’ve had Jordan King for three years now,” said LeBlanc. “I worked with those players three years ago and I look at them today and they are all men. They’ve all turned into men, and they’ve done a great job for our organization while they’ve been here.”
Sangster says his time with the Ramblers has flown by.
“Every year the 20-year-olds say, ‘don’t blink, it goes by so fast,’ and you always shrug it off and never believe it,” said Sangster. “And now it’s here and I’m the one saying it to them in the dressing room. It’s come full circle.”
Sangster started with the Ramblers when he was 16-years-old and has been playing with them fulltime since he was 17. He turns 21 on April 11.
“It’s a surreal moment,” said Sangster. “I started playing hockey here when I was so young, and it definitely feels different being the oldest guy leaving.”
Sangster, along with Jake Barter, are the two defencemen not returning next year, and they are joined by six forwards; Jordan King, Layton Parsons, Liam Conrad, Will Bower, Brady Griffin-Hefford, and Jordan Renaud.
The Ramblers host the Fred Page Cup in 2019, and cannot waste any time to replace those eight players for next year.
“Our season was done on Monday (after their March 26, Game 7 loss to the South Shore Lumberjacks) and we had a meeting on Thursday,” said LeBlanc. “We have to turn the page very quickly because the Fred Page Cup is just over one year away.”
The Ramblers are currently looking at two defencemen in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to replace Sangster and Barter.
“We’re watching a lot of the Q playoffs to see who is in and who’s out; who might be in next year, and who might be out next year,” said LeBlanc.
QMJHL defencemen they hope to bring to Amherst include Halifax Moosehead player Cooper Jones and Chicoutimi Saguenéens player Morgan Nauss.
“They just got knocked out of the playoffs, so we’ll see what happens with those two defencemen over the summertime,” said LeBlanc. “I don’t know if both will play Major Junior or not. We’ll see what happens but there could be a good chance of getting one of them here.”
The Ramblers have five prospects who played in the Atlantic Midget AAA tournament last weekend, including 1st team all-star Nick Gosse of the St. John Maple Leafs, Alex Wynter of the Moncton Flyers, Cole Darrach, also of the Moncton Flyers, Flyers goaltender Daniel Thompson, who was named the tournament’s top goaltender and MVP, and Brandon Stone of the Cole Harbour Wolfpack, who played four games with the Ramblers early this past season.
“We have a lot of good prospects in the bank, so we’ll work hard to try to get them here and go from there,” said LeBlanc.
The Amherst Ramblers 2018 award and recipients are as follows:
Most Valuable Player – Jordan King
Fan’s Choice Award – Jordan King
Top Scorer Award – Jordan King
Carter’s Sports Cresting Academic Proficiency, Leadership Potential, and Hockey Ability Award – Liam Conrad
Players Choice Award – Jordan King
Ambassador, Volunteerism Award – Will Lafford
Clean Play Award – Brady Griffin-Hefford
Most Improved Award – Joel Goguen
Captain’s Choice Award – Will Lafford
Top Defenceman Award – Lucas Sangster
True Grit Award – Will Lafford
Rookie of the Year – Joel Goguen
Billet of the Year Award - Dawson Grenier
Ronald Rayworth Memorial – Walter Maltby