Charlottetown team to host Acadie-Bathurst tonight in QMJHL action
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Charlottetown Islanders’ head coach Gordie Dwyer talks to his players at the end of Friday’s practice at the Eastlink Centre.
It’s back to the grind for the Charlottetown Islanders after a week-long Christmas break, but it’s not so much business as usual.
New faces have changed the Islanders, courtesy of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League trade period, which opened Dec. 22.
One of the new players, forward Matthew Cusson, should play tonight when the Isles (14-19-1-4) host the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (14-19-2-2) in Game 1 of a home-and-home series. Start time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
Game 2 is Sunday at
3 p.m. in Bathurst, N.B.
The other new player, defenceman Vincent Roy, arrived in Charlottetown from Gatineau on Friday, and if he skates versus the Titan it will be a game-time decision.
As for those who remain, for instance Isles defenceman Troy Vance, the trade hoopla can’t get in the way.
“You try not to think about it. If it happens, if happens,” said Vance, 20, after the Isles practice Friday. “I haven’t heard anything (about me), but I’m not focused on it.”
So far, Isles general manager Grant Sonier has moved forward Yan Pavel Laplante, 18, and defenceman Julien Leduc, 19, to Victoriaville for first-round picks in 2015 and 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2014, and sent Matthew Bursey, 19, to Blainville-Boisbriand for the 17-year-old Cusson.
And on Friday, Sonier sent veteran winger Deverick Ottereyes, 19, and a 10th-round pick in 2015 to Gatineau for Roy, 16, and an eighth-round pick in 2014.
Ottereyes, an eighth- round pick of the P.E.I. Rocket in 2011, had four goals, eight points and 18 penalty minutes in 33 games with Charlottetown this season and had 29 points in 134 career games on P.E.I.
The six-foot-two, 189-pound Roy was an invitee to Gatineau camp and hasn’t seen action this season.
“I think people have been pretty positive. The team makeup is such that a lot of our top guys are our younger players. The excitement is in watching these younger guys grow together.” Gordie Dwyer, Charlottetown Islanders’ head coach, on the potential groan factor of the team’s fans after recent trades created a younger team.
Sonier said the Isles tried to sign the six-foot-two Roy as a free agent last year.
“He’s big, he plays physical and can really skate,” said Sonier, who wished Ottereyes well. “(Deverick) was a good contributor on and off the ice. He was a well-liked guy in the dressing room. He’ll be missed.”
The Islanders started the season fast, winning a quick 10 games, topping the league standings and making the national rankings.
But November and December weren’t kind
and the Isles slumped, suffered through a nine-game losing streak, won just
one game in their last 10 contests and lost three straight before the break.
So the stoppage came just in time, said Vance, and hopefully the time off will re-start the stalled Isles.
“Hard to see what (what we’ll be like). It’s the first day back. Some guys don’t arrive until later. But everyone is fresh, ready to go. Chemistry will come,” he said. “Everyone gets tired before Christmas, hard to focus on those last few games. We’ve come back energized, in a little better spirits. (Now we have) to go out and get as many points as we can.”
The trade period ends Jan. 7.
Saint John recalled forward Mathieu Joseph and Kensington native and defenceman Bailey Webster from their respective midget AAA hockey clubs. Webster, 16, was a seventh-round selection in 2013 and has two goals and 14 points in 21 games this season for the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild. Joseph, also 16, was a third-round pick in 2013. Both are available to play today versus Moncton.