Ice war­rior

Alex Wyn­ter de­vel­op­ing into top-four de­fence­man with Ram­blers

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAR­RELL COLE dar­[email protected]­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Alex Wyn­ter is prov­ing to be an im­por­tant de­fence­man for the Ram­blers.

When the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ram­blers broke train­ing camp in early Septem­ber there were very few who fig­ured a rookie de­fence­man would be­come a key con­trib­u­tor dur­ing a four-month pe­riod in which the club fought through a slate of in­juries.

In fact, Alex Wyn­ter was a healthy scratch in the sea­son opener at home on Sept. 15. He made his de­but on Sept. 20 and hasn’t looked back since.

“It has gone very well,” Wyn­ter said. “I re­ally didn’t know what to ex­pect when the sea­son be­gan, with this be­ing my rookie sea­son, but I think I’ve fit in very well.”

A grad­u­ate of the suc­cess­ful Monc­ton Fly­ers ma­jor mid­get hockey pro­gram, Wyn­ter has fo­cused on play­ing hard and look­ing for ways to im­prove his game at the ju­nior A level in hopes of po­ten­tially get­ting a shot at the Ri­mouski Oceanic lineup next fall.

“While it would be nice to move up to the Q, it’s not some­thing I’m wor­ry­ing about now. My fo­cus right now is on do­ing what I can to help the hockey team now. If I did get the op­por­tu­nity next year, I’d like to go be­cause it has al­ways been a dream of mine to play there,” said Wyn­ter, drafted in the ninth round of the 2017 QMJHL draft, 148th over­all. “If it doesn’t hap­pen, I’d also be happy play­ing here with the Ram­blers and be a leader in the next few years and play some min­utes. Amherst is a great place to play.”

The 18-year-old de­fence­man, taken 15th over­all by the Ram­blers in the 2017 draft, is not known for his of­fence, with a goal and five as­sists in 26 games and 32 penalty min­utes. What he has be­come is a gritty, shot-block­ing de­fence­man who’s tough in front of his own team’s net – some­one who brings back mem­o­ries of Lu­cas Sang­ster, who spent four years on the Ram­blers blue­line be­fore grad­u­at­ing last spring.

Wyn­ter’s goal of staying in the lineup caught the at­ten­tion of oth­ers. The 6’2” Monc­ton na­tive was in­vited as a mem­ber of Team East­link South to a prospects tour­na­ment in On­tario.

It was from that, Wyn­ter got an op­por­tu­nity to try out for Team Canada East for the 2018 World Ju­nior A Chal­lenge out west in De­cem­ber. While he didn’t crack the lineup, Wyn­ter said he learned a lot from just at­tend­ing the camp and play­ing at the al­ls­tar chal­lenge in Tren­ton, Ont.

“I felt when I got back I gained some con­fi­dence and was play­ing a lot bet­ter,” Wyn­ter said. “There were some re­ally good coaches there and I picked up a lot of things that have helped my game.”

Wyn­ter said he has be­come a bet­ter de­fence­man on the penalty kill – some­thing that he was al­ready pretty good at com­ing out of mid­get. He has also worked on mov­ing the puck up the ice quickly. Go­ing into the sec­ond half, Wyn­ter hopes to play top four min­utes down the stretch, es­pe­cially on the penalty kill.

While the in­jury bug that hit the Ram­blers hard dur­ing the first part of the sea­son not only gave Wyn­ter a chance to play – es­pe­cially dur­ing the pro­longed ab­sence of Thomas Ashe and Lin­den Na­m­a­goose – it also brought the team closer to­gether at a time when it could’ve col­lapsed.

“We re­ally have some­thing great go­ing on in­side that dress­ing room. We get along very well and like hang­ing out to­gether,” Wyn­ter said. “Even when guys are out of the lineup, they’re still there to sup­port the team. When you’re in the lineup you want to win for each other and for the guys who are out.”

Wyn­ter said it has been great play­ing with some of his for­mer Flyer team­mates this year in­clud­ing Thomas Ashe, Cole Dar­rach and Cole Waugh as well as Ju­lian He­bert and Alex Hayes, who’ve played as af­fil­i­ates with the Ram­blers. He has played on the same team as Dar­rach since atom AA.

With the re­sump­tion of the sched­ule, Wyn­ter said the fo­cus is on fin­ish­ing as high as pos­si­ble in the East­link South Di­vi­sion stand­ings with a long play­off run lead­ing up to the Fred Page Cup – be­ing hosted by the Ram­blers from May 1 to 5.

“Our goal is win­ning the Fred Page Cup,” he said. “It’s some­thing I re­ally want to be part of.

GARY BOUDREAU PHOTOGRAPHY

Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ram­blers de­fence­man Alex Wyn­ter has de­vel­oped into a solid con­trib­u­tor to the club as it con­tin­ues the Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League sea­son and pre­pares for May’s Fred Page Cup.

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