AMHERST – Hockey can, at times, be a game of bounces. You get them, you win; you don’t you lose.
It’s sort of an apt way to describe the early season foibles of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers as they enter the month of December by traveling to Bridgewater tonight to face the South Shore Lumberjacks before returning to the Amherst Stadium on Saturday to host the St. Stephen Aces – a team that has always had their number.
“We have to find a way to play a full 60 minutes, but quite honestly we need a break. We need the bounces to begin going our way,” Ramblers coach Jeff LeBlanc said. “The biggest thing right now is our confidence has taken a hit. We’ve only lost four games in regulation this year and of those four only two were by more than two goals. We just have to get the swagger back that we had at the first of the year. It’s going to come, we just need to have a few bounces go our way and keep working hard.”
The Ramblers have saw leads fade away on them on several occasions this season. Two weeks ago at home the club had a four-goal lead on the Valley Wildcats only to lose it in a shootout, while just last weekend the team had a 3-1 lead on the Edmundston Blizzard only to see if evaporate before losing in another shootout.
“We were up 3-1 in the third period of that game and our best goal scorer missed a wide open net by a lot. That doesn’t happen to him, it’s usually a sure thing. He scores, we win the game, but he misses and they come down the ice and score to make it 3-2 changing the momentum,” LeBlanc said. “That’s the type of luck we’ve been having.”
LeBlanc said the coaching staff is doing its best to still hold the players accountable but at the same time allowing them to bond as a team. That included a night at the sportsdome in Moncton with laser tag, flag football and pizza.
The Ramblers made a couple of roster moves on Wednesday sending the rights to goalie Julian Galloway to the Powassan Voodoos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League for 20-year-old defenceman Alex Boudreau.
The club also sent the rights to forward Jacob Vance to Powasson for future consideration. Vance is playing college hockey at Portage College.
LeBlanc said Boudreau is not expected to report to Amherst. He will use him as a trade asset.
“Like I said before, Julian is a great kid and we are happy he found a place to finish off his junior career,” LeBlanc said. “We gave him the opportunity to talk with Powassan before making the trade and it seems like a good fit for him and their team. The player returning won’t be reporting in the near future as he is going to university in Ontario. He’s an asset we might be able to use in the future.” LeBlanc said.
NOTES – Amherst Toyota is the sponsor of Saturday’s game against St. Stephen. Fans are encouraged to bring a new toy to the game to donate to the Christmas Toy Drive. All the toys will be given to Christmas for Kids….The Ramblers are offering a Christmas flex package that includes admission to all 13 post-Christmas regular season games for the price of 10 ($80 for adults, $70 for students/seniors and $50 for children ages 13 to 18).