Charlottetown forward hitting stride as Islanders prepare for post-season run
Kameron Kielly is heating up.
The second-year centre with the Charlottetown Islanders has points in six of his seven games this month after going through a 14-game goalless drought in November and December.
"I try not to get too caught up in it, (just) work hard off the ice and you'll get rewarded," Kielly said after Thursday's practice. "(I've) really tried to focus on hitting my stride for playoffs. That's been the main goal since Christmas."
The Islanders (33-28-1-4) play their final regular season home game tonight against the Saint John Sea Dogs (31-26-3-6) at 7 p.m. They end the regular season in Moncton on Saturday.
Kielly, an 18-year-old Charlottetown native, has had his best season yet in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with career highs in goals (16), assists (30) and points (46).
While some of his teammates get more of the spotlight, Kielly has constantly been an effective hockey player all season, coach Gordie Dwyer said.
"He's been excellent for us," he said.
Dwyer said the assistant captain plays in all key situations, works hard and is willing to do whatever is required to win games. It might mean shadowing one of the league's best players, getting under a player's skin or scoring a key goal.
"He's a true competitor," Dwyer said. "He's a guy that you want on your team."
Ross Johnston also grew up playing in the Sherwood Falcons program, but hadn't had a chance to play with Kielly until this season.
"He does a lot of the little things right and plays the game the way it should be played," Johnston said. "He's definitely a big part of our team."
It wasn't always easy.
Kielly made the Gatineau Olympiques as a 15-year-old forward after being the last pick of the 2012 draft's first round. He was homesick and it impacted a season, he now calls a "character-building year."
"It's no secret I didn't have the best year point wise . . . but all in all I learned a lot that year," Kielly said. "It made me realize I wanted to be a hockey player."
The Islanders traded for him before the 2013-14 season and moved him to centre midway through the season.
Kielly is the Islanders' best faceoff man, having won 57 per cent of his team-high 1,117 draws. While he wouldn't tip his hand on what makes him effective in the circle, Kielly did say he worked on his strength, watched tape to find other players' tendencies and practises with teammates.
Dwyer said Kielly has quietly garnered quite a bit of attention in his draft year. He was ranked 80 among North American skaters in Central Scouting Services mid-term rankings in January.
"The main focus is team success and I'm just excited for our playoff run," Kielly said. "It's exciting. I think we have the team here to do something special."
Regardless of the outcome of the next two games the Islanders will start the post-season on the road. Who they play will be determined following the weekend action.
Who - A centre with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Hometown - Charlottetown.
Age - 18.
Size - Six-foot-one, 182 pounds.
Season GP G A Pts.
2014-15 65 16 30 46
2013-14 66 10 21 31
2012-13 60 2 4 6
Quote - "Certainly a lot of the players from around here can look up to, and be proud to say Kameron Kielly has come through the Charlottetown minor hockey." Coach Gordie Dwyer