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Ramblers set to open 2019-20 MHL season at home

The Ramblers, including goaltender Joel Goguen, acknowledge the cheers of the crowd after the win.
Joel Goguen will see plenty of action between the pipes for the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers as the club prepares to open the 2019-20 MHL season at home Saturday against the Summerside Western Capitals. - Dave Mathieson

Summerside Western Capitals visit Amherst Stadium on Saturday

AMHERST, N.S. —

It’s go time for the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers.

The Ramblers will open their 2019-20 Maritime Junior Hockey League season at home on Saturday as they host the Summerside Western Capitals.

Game time is 7 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to getting started,” head coach Doug Doull said. “We are still getting to know each other, and I like to make evaluations as we go through the season, but so far I’m liking what I see. We have a strong core of veteran leadership and we have some good young rookies who are going to push those guys to make us better.”

The Ramblers have 11 players back from last season including goalie Joel Goguen, who backed up Matt Williams and was solid when Williams was out with an injury for several weeks.

Defensively Alex Whynter, Michal Sivek and Bradley Dawe are back while up front Cole Darrach, Cole Waugh, Caleb Rich, Alex Lafreniere, Max Boudreau, Stephen Fox and Colton McKenna are also returning, although McKenna is injured to start the season.

“I’m encouraged by the leadership we have,” said Doull, who joined the team in the offseason. “We have 11 returning players and those players have been through quite a bit with some heartbreak in first round exits and they had a Fred Page Cup run. Some guys will really have to step up this year.”

Newcomers include goalie Nathan Gauthier, a Laval, Que. native who played the last three years in the U.S. Premier Hockey League with California, New Hampshire and Atlanta, while on defence there’s recently acquired Spencer Smith (who played with the OJHL’s St. Michael’s Buzzers last season), Dylan MacDonald (who played high school hockey in Cape Breton with the Riverview Red Hawks), Will Bourque, Matthew Helpard (who played with Newbridge Academy and was recently acquired from Notre Dame and Yarmouth) and Lucas Fabijancic, who was acquired from Grand Falls but will start the season on the injured list.

Up front, newcomers include Ryan Penney (acquired from Grand Falls), former Moncton Midget AAA Flyer Owen Cole, Robbie Burt (who played with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Oshawa Generals and Kingston Frontenacs over the past four seasons), Julian Hebert (who saw action last year as an affiliate), Jason Gallant (acquired from the Miramichi Timberwolves) and Ben Williams (who played major midget in Cole Harbour last season and is the younger brother of Matt Williams).

“I like the number of newcomers and rookies we have this year. They bring a lot to the team and with some of the younger players you’ll see the veterans sort of take them under their wing and help them out,” Doull said.

Doull said he has been impressed with the camps put in by players like Owen Cole, who has tremendous speed; and Ben Williams and Ryan Penney, who he said bring a workhorse ethic to the rink.

“I like our team speed,” he said. “We made some mistakes the other night against Summerside. That’s going to happen, but you have to go back out there. Hopefully we can limit those and compete.”

Going into the season, Doull said, there are areas he wants to see continuous improvement and hopes to address whatever weaknesses there are as the season goes on.

Looking at the league and the Eastlink South Division, Doull sees a lot of parity with no easy games.

“That’s what you want,” he said, “hard fought games every night. We always have to look at what’s in front of us each game. We can’t afford to look ahead at the schedule too much.”

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