Thompson providing a calming influence for Islanders

Jason Malloy
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Will Thompson brings a steady game and a mature personality to the Charlottetown Islanders.

The 18-year-old defenceman said he wants to play the same way every night he steps on the ice and not get caught up in the highs and lows of a hockey season.

"Don't get too excited when you have a really good game and don't get too down when you have an off night, just kind of stay even keel," he said Tuesday.

It's that kind of approach head coach Jim Hulton appreciates.

"It's an easy thing to preach, but it's a hard thing to practise," he said. "When you have veteran players that have been through the ups and downs and can maintain their composure, it's a great example for the young players."

Thompson started this season slower than expected. The team moved him back to his natural position on the right side in November, and his game has taken off in the last six weeks.

"He's been a real horse for us, in particular, since Christmas," Hulton said. "He's a lot more active in the rush and on the offensive side of the puck without costing him on the defensive side."

Thompson said he gained confidence from the move, but also noted the ability to play with guys like Jonathan Duchesne, Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Alexis Vanier in recent weeks has helped.

Thompson grew up through the minor hockey program in Fredericton, N.B., played his last season of bantam at the Ontario Hockey Academy for Luke Beck. After a year of midget at Rothesay Netherwood School he was drafted by the Saint John Sea Dogs with the 17th pick in the 2013 draft.

He played a season in the Port City before the Islanders sent a first-round pick to Saint John during the 2014 off-season.

In his only season in Saint John, the young Sea Dogs struggled to a 19-44-2-3 record and missed the playoffs.

Thompson said there was a big difference between that team and the Islanders squad, which was near the bottom of the standings before Christmas.

"I knew we just had to figure it out. We had a lot of talent and a lot of good older players."

The Islanders have turned their season around.

They are 8-3-3-1 since Christmas and have points in eight of their last nine games.

"We're not where we want to be yet. We have a long way to go to make up some ground before the end of the year," Thompson said. "We're just focusing on the next game, the next shift."

The next game is tonight when they host the Shawinigan Cataractes at 7 p.m.

Thompson may not have one element of his game that is a huge wow factor, but he's smart and does a lot of things well.

"When I think of Will, I think of quiet, steady, dependable, and those are all great features for a defenceman," Hulton said. "When you watch him on a repeated day in, day out basis, I think, you really come to appreciate his consistency."

Listed as six feet and 190 pounds, Thompson is not overly big for the league, but he has been on the right side of some big hits this season.

"You wouldn't expect him to be as solid as he is, but he's . . . strong," captain Oliver Cooper said. "If you have your head down, he can clean your clock pretty good."

His strength is no surprise to Cooper. The two played together on the Saint John team in 2013-14, and the two Fredericton natives have worked out together for three years.

"He's the hardest working guy I've been training with," Cooper said.

Organizations: Islanders, Ontario Hockey Academy for Luke Beck, Rothesay Netherwood School

Geographic location: Fredericton, Saint John

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