© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Charlottetown Islanders forward Josh Shatford, right, tries to lift the stick of teammate David Henley in front of goalie Eric Brassard during practice earlier this week.
The work has just begun for the Charlottetown Islanders.
The young squad was eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday. They will take a few days off before having strength and conditioning tests and exit meetings next week.
Coach Gordie Dwyer said the next few months are critical for success when the 2014-15 season begins in September.
“The off-season is where you can make a lot of progress as a player,” he said on Friday.
“There’s a difference between a guy that plays hockey and a hockey player and I think what really separates them is preparation.”
Part of it is putting the time and effort in during the spring and summer to be in the best shape when training camp starts in August.
“There’s an expectation from the organization that everybody is hungry and willing to put in the effort and sacrifice to be part of this (team) in the future,” the coach said.
Wearing the Islanders uniform this season is not a guarantee players will wear it in 2014-15.
“You’re going to have to earn your spots,” Dwyer said.
The team acquired players at the trade deadline that went back to midget or junior A to finish the season. There are also midget and import draft picks that will be looking to earn a spot in training camp, while trades could also bring new players in to mix.
“There’s a lot of faces on the board right now that’ll be in tough come training camp next year,” said Dwyer, alluding to the depth chart in his office. “That’s a good problem to have for us.”
The team only graduates one player, defenceman Troy Vance, from junior while forwards Robert Pelletier, Spenser Cobbold, Mike DiPaolo and Craig MacLauchlan as well as defenceman Anthony Cortese could return in one of three overage spots next season.
Vance left Charlottetown Friday to return to his Middletown, N.Y., home. The Dallas Stars pick could be re-assigned to one of its affiliate clubs.
Vance scored on his last shift on Thursday for his second career playoff game in 23 contests in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Dwyer said the assistant captain logged big minutes for the team this season while being professional and a good role model for the younger players.
“He embraced that opportunity to become a leader,” Dwyer said. “He will be able to leave here knowing that he helped along some of these younger guys.”
A look at the Charlottetown Islanders players, who could return next year, based on their birth year.
D Luc Deschenes
D David Henley
F Daniel Sprong
F Bradley Kennedy
F Kameron Kielly
F Alexandre Goulet
F Josh Shatford
F Nathan Yetman
D Kevin Laliberte
G Mason McDonald
F Liam Alcalde
F Zach Beaton
D Guillaume Rioux-Legault
G Eric Brassard
F Malik Johnson
F Thomas Stavert
F Julien Avon
D Vladislav Lysenko
F Spencer Cobbold
F Robert Pelletier
F Craig MacLauchlan
F Mike DiPaolo
D Anthony Cortese