Reg­u­lar sea­son be­gins Sept. 15 Ram­blers train­ing camp in full swing

The Amherst News - - SPORTS - BY DAR­RELL COLE dar­rell.cole@amher­st­ Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ram­blers are back on the ice at the Amherst Sta­dium to start the road to the Fred Page Cup next May.

“It’s good to be back at it,” Jeff Le­Blanc, the coach and GM, of the Ram­blers said Aug. 26. “We’re ready to go. Ev­ery­one showed up who we fig­ured would be here, there were no strag­glers. That’s al­ways a good thing.”

Le­Blanc also an­nounced a pair of trades with the Sum­mer­side West­ern Cap­i­tals that will see goalie Matt Wil­liams and for­ward Hunter McIntyre come to Amherst in re­turn for prospects and fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions.

Wil­liams and McIntyre join other new­com­ers Casey Fox and Alex Lafre­niere, ac­quired in trades over the sum­mer.

“It’s go­ing to be an ex­cit­ing year for us. Our goal is to con­tinue to get bet­ter ev­ery game and build to­ward the Fred Page Cup,” Le­Blanc said. “We’re an av­er­age team on paper, but we’ll get a lot bet­ter.”

Le­Blanc said he’s tem­per­ing ex­pec­ta­tions go­ing into the sea­son. Last year, there were high hopes for the club af­ter a num­ber of off­sea­son moves and a quick start. In the end, the Ram­blers placed third in the divi­sion and got bounced in a seven-game open­ing round series by the South Shore Lum­ber­jacks.

“I think ex­pec­ta­tions may have been blown a lit­tle out of pro­por­tion last year,” he said. “This year, we have six top-end for­wards we have to re­place. Most teams re­build af­ter some­thing like that, but we’re try­ing to build a Fred Page Cup team af­ter that. It’s not go­ing to be easy and it’s not go­ing to be quick, but we’ll man­age our ex­pec­ta­tions and look at things one game at a time and one prac­tice at a time.

“We know we’re go­ing to be there May 1. Now it’s all about get­ting there and play­ing good hockey when we get there.”

While there is some work to do to re­build up front, Le­Blanc likes his goal­tend­ing tan­dem and his de­fen­sive core with five re­turn­ing play­ers. There are also six re­turn­ing for­wards.

“We still have a lot of depth, we just have to find the chem­istry as we add play­ers to get to where we want to be,” he said.

One player ex­cited to be back in de­fence­man Daw­son Gre­nier.

“It feels good. It has been a long sum­mer, it’s nice to be back,” said Gre­nier, who is en­ter­ing his fourth sea­son with the Ram­blers. “Key for us will be hav­ing a strong start and build­ing from there.”

Gre­nier likes the moves that have been made over the sum­mer and while the Fred Page Cup is the ul­ti­mate goal, he said the team needs to fo­cus on the reg­u­lar sea­son first.

The team’s next ex­hi­bi­tion game is Thurs­day, Sept. 6 in Sum­mer­side while the Caps are back in Amherst on Satur­day, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.

The reg­u­lar sea­son be­gins Satur­day, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. against the Valley Wild­cats.

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