Ram­blers ready

Weeks Crush­ers in town to rekin­dle ri­valry

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - By Dar­rell Cole Amherst News dar­rell.cole@amher­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Jor­dan King and the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ram­blers be­gin the 2017-18 Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League reg­u­lar sea­son at home on Satur­day against the Pic­tou County Weeks Crush­ers.

While the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ram­blers have one of the strong­est teams on pa­per, coach and gen­eral man­ager Jeff LeBlanc knows pa­per doesn’t win a cham­pi­onship.

The Ram­blers will open their 2017-18 Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League reg­u­lar sea­son at home Satur­day when they host the Pic­tou County Weeks Crush­ers – a team they de­feated in over­time in Game 7 of last year’s play­offs.

“I’ve known from good teams I’ve had in the past that (be­ing good) on pa­per doesn’t mean any­thing when you start play­ing games,” LeBlanc said. “The best we can do to man­age ex­pec­ta­tions is by not wor­ry­ing about them. The only thing we can con­trol is what we do on the ice.”

The Ram­blers en­ter the sea­son hav­ing lost only one game dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion sched­ule and even in that game the club dom­i­nated the Sum­mer­side West­ern Cap­i­tals, but couldn’t beat their goalie.

The team has a solid nu­cleus of re­turn­ing play­ers led by for­wards Jor­dan King, Felix LeBlanc, Brock McEwen and Lay­ton Par­sons, de­fence­men Lu­cas Sang­ster, Daw­son Gre­nier and Matt Sar­toris and goalie Ju­lian Gal­loway.

Join­ing the club this year via trade are for­wards Brady GriffinH­ef­ford, who was ac­quired from St. Stephen; Liam Con­rad and Will Laf­ford, picked up from Ed­mund­ston; for­mer Cal­gary Mus­tang Tay­den Woods and Alex Beaulieu, who was picked up from Camp­bell­ton; as well as for­mer Char­lot­te­town Is­landers and Que­bec Rem­parts de­fence­man Jake Barter.

They’re joined by draft picks Bran­don Stone and Dayne Chasse from Hal­i­fax, Bradley Dawe from Cole Har­bour and Monc­ton’s Cole Waugh, who saw play­off ac­tion for the Ram­blers last sea­son.

It adds up to a strong lineup, but LeBlanc said it’s too early to be mak­ing boasts about win­ning a cham­pi­onship.

“At this point of the year you take it in baby steps, one game at a time,” LeBlanc said. “We have 14 new faces in our lineup, so the chem­istry is go­ing to take a while. I ex­pect some grow­ing pains early in the sea­son, but it’s a very tal­ented group we put to­gether. I think we’ll be there in the end, but it’s go­ing to take a lit­tle bit of time.”

The Ram­blers coach is also very aware of just how strong the East­link South Di­vi­sion is. He said every team in the di­vi­sion im­proved over the sum­mer and while the Satur­day’s op­po­nent lost some key play­ers, LeBlanc said they’re still po­tent with Michael Dill and Dy­lan Ri­ley.

NOTES: The Ram­blers picked up goalie Xavier Cormier and a draft pick from Ed­mund­ston ear­lier this week while club re­leased Alex Wyn­ter, Cole Dar­ragh and Si­mon Hen­man. Amherst is on the road Fri­day, Sept. 22 to play the Val­ley Wild­cats be­fore com­ing home Satur­day, Sept. 23 to host the Wood­stock Slam­mers.

Dave Mathieson – Amherst News

The Amherst Ram­blers, seen here play­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion game against the Cap­i­tals on Satur­day, will open their reg­u­lar sea­son sched­ule against the Pic­tou County Weeks Crush­ers to­mor­row night at Amherst Sta­dium.

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