Plenty of personnel changes as Charlottetown Islanders ready for tonight’s QMJHL home opener
The Charlottetown Islanders roster has been drastically altered, but one thing remains the same – you better work hard if you want to wear the uniform.
“My expectations for my players haven’t changed. Hard work is non-negotiable,” coach Gordie Dwyer said. “I want my guys to bring some enthusiasm and hard work mentality to the rink everyday.”
Only nine players remain from last year’s opening night roster.
The team lost eight of its top nine scorers from a year ago, including Quebec Major Junior League scoring leader Ben Duffy and Josh Currie, who finished third.
Dwyer said he may employ different systems with the new personnel.
“We have a youth movement in place,” he said. “We have put some quality players at a younger age in our lineup, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful.”
The team is younger, but skilled, and has more depth than a year ago when much of the offence was concentrated on the Duffy-Currie line.
“I think it’s going to be (scoring) by committee,” Dwyer said of this year’s lineup. “We expect some guys to be able to step up in their production.”
That includes 20-year-old winger Matej Beran, Yan-Pavel Laplante, sophomore Alexis Pépin and rookie Daniel Sprong.
“The kid can play,” third-year Islanders winger Matt Bursey said of Sprong, who scored seven points in six games.
Pépin is excited to get the season started.
“We’ve been waiting for this for five weeks,” he said. “We’re excited to play with the new logo, new jersey, the new team, in front of the fans.”
He is looking to be more of a leader this year and improve on his 18 goals and 12 assists he had in his rookie season.
Zach Beaton is one of the new Islanders. The Stratford resident was acquired from Cape Breton in a deal on the eve of the draft for goalie Maxime Lagace. He is excited to be playing at home and looking forward to opening night.
“I’ve watched these guys quite a bit growing up five minutes from the rink, so being able to play is going to be an honour.”
He is one of five Island hockey players who could dress tonight. The other four are forwards Kameron Kielly and Craig MacLauchlan as well as goalies Daryl MacCallum and Sam Walsh.
Beaton said he played against all four of them growing up. He was teammates with MacLauchlan last year in Summerside and with the other three at the Canada Games.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You come here and you already know some people.”
With Islanders’ goalies Antoine Bibeau and Eric Brassard both in NHL camps, McCallum is expected to start tonight. He has been one of a number of pleasant surprises at this year’s camp.
Dwyer said draft picks Alex Goulet and Bradley Kennedy have both had good camps and some of the returnees have also impressed.
Everybody works hard on this team and everybody looks like they’re willing to do what it takes to win. Matt Bursey, Charlottetown Islanders winger
“Anthony Cortese is veteran guy,” he said, of the blue-liner who has nine points in six pre-season game. “He has an offensive element to his game on the back end. He responded well in training camp with some of those extra looks on the power play and in different opportunities.”
The pre-season predictions have the Islanders from being among the favourites to near the bottom.
“It was like that last year also,” Pépin said, noting some people ranked the team to finish dead last this time a year ago and the team ended up with its highest win totals ever.
“It’s motivation for us.”
“I’m not worried about the perception of our hockey club on the outside,” Dwyer added.
“I am worried about our individuals and how we perform.”
Following is a look at the Charlottetown Islanders previous record since arriving on Prince Edward Island
Season W L O S Pts
2012-13 41 23 3 1 86
2011-12 19 43 2 4 44
2010-11 33 26 3 6 75
2009-10 35 25 2 6 78
2008-09 26 32 5 5 62
2007-08 30 36 2 2 64
2006-07 36 28 2 6 80
2005-06 25 38 4 3 57
Season W L T OTL Pts
2004-05 24 39 7 0 55
2003-04 40 19 5 6 91
The following are where the Islanders players were born
Quebec – 12
Prince Edward Island – 3
Ontario – 2
Nova Scotia – 2
U.S.A. – 2
New Brunswick – 1
Newfoundland and Labrador – 1
Czech Republic – 1
Germany – 1
The following are the players’ years of birth
1993 – 3
1994 – 8
1995 – 7
1996 – 6
1997 – 1