© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Alexis Pépin has stepped up his game during the past few weeks for the Charlottetown Islanders.
Alexis Pépin feels comfortable and confident on the ice again.
A lot was expected of the 17-year-old forward in his second year in Charlottetown, but the results didn’t come.
“I had a slow start,” Pépin admitted before Tuesday’s practice. “My game wasn’t where I wanted it to be, so I worked hard in the gym.”
He suggested a conditioning issue combined with a lack of confidence when the pucks weren’t going in led to the sophomore slump.
Pépin went through a growth spurt during the off-season and it impacted his game. The six-foot-two forward said he has dropped about 15 pounds since the beginning of the season to get to 220 pounds.
“I feel very good on the ice. I don’t feel heavy or anything,” he said. “I have to make sure I take care of myself, eat properly and work out.”
Pépin had two assists in the first game of the season, went four games without a point before getting two more assists on Sept. 29. He was held off the score sheet for the next five games before scoring his first goal on Oct. 17 at home against Val-d’Or.
“I was worrying about a lot of things,” said Pépin, who is eligible for this summer’s NHL draft.
“The points weren’t coming. I was thinking about the draft because it wasn’t a good start, so I stopped thinking about all that stuff and tried to do my best every night.”
Two weeks ago, Pépin had four points in two games and was named the top star of the Islanders’ 4-1 win over Drummondville on Nov. 13.
“In the past few weeks I think he’s really turned the corner and credit to Alexis, he’s earned everything here,” said coach Gordie Dwyer. “His work ethic has been great. His attention to detail has been strong and he’s putting in the effort to help his performance.”
Dwyer said Pépin, who was the second overall pick in the 2012 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft, has “tremendous upside.”
He didn’t score during the two losses in Quebec last week, but said his line with Kameron Kielly and Daniel Sprong are generating chances.
“Peps brings a lot of energy. He’s a big guy and I think he creates space for me and Daniel,” Kielly said. “We’re just building chemistry now . . . I think good things are going to come from that line.”
Dwyer said the lines are not set in stone, but the team believes it has found a threesome that works.
“Alexis is a guy when he’s playing his best everyone wants to play with him,” he said.
The Islanders (13-11-1-2) are in Saint John, N.B., tonight to play the Sea Dogs (6-18-0-3) at 7 p.m.
“Their goaltending is excellent,” Dwyer said. Sebastien “Auger is one of the top goaltenders in the league.”
The Islanders focused on generating more even-strength chances during Monday’s practice in an effort to increase its offensive output.
Defenceman Julien Leduc will miss tonight’s game after sustaining a hand injury during the weekend in Quebec.
Meet Alexis Pépin
Who – A forward with the Charlottetown Islanders in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Age – 17.
Birthplace – Candiac, Que.
Size – Six-foot-two, 220 pounds.
Season GP G A Pts
2012-13 64 18 12 30
2013-14 27 5 8 13
Head To Head
A look at this season’s matchup between the Charlottetown Islanders and Saint John Sea Dogs:
Charlottetown 3, Saint John 2 SO
Saint John 2, Charlottetown 3
Charlottetown 4, Saint John 1
Charlottetown 2, Saint John 4
Next Six Games
Charlottetown at Saint John, 7 p.m.
Rouyn-Noranda at Charlottetown, 7 p.m.
Cape Breton at Charlottetown, 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 4
Charlottetown at Acadie-Bathurst, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7
Quebec at Charlottetown, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 8
Halifax at Charlottetown, 3 p.m.