DALLAS – Noah Dobson was using a little downtime on Saturday afternoon to reflect on what has been a whirlwind journey.
The 18-year-old Summerside native is now a first-round draft choice in the National Hockey League. The New York Islanders called Dobson’s name 12th overall in Dallas on Friday night.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Dobson in describing the experience of being drafted. “It’s a dream come true. You dream as a kid of having your name called by an NHL team. It’s just starting to sink in now, and I’m relaxing a bit with my family. It’s been a really cool ride. Obviously, it’s the first step in trying to become a National Hockey League player.”
Dobson, a six-foot-three and 179-pound right-handed shooting defenceman, played the last two seasons with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 26 points – seven goals and 19 assists – in 63 regular-season games in his rookie 2016-17 season, and had 17 goals and 52 assists for 69 points in 67 contests playing key roles in the Titan winning the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup and the Memorial Cup – Canadian major junior championship.
The 18-year-old son of Andrew and Jenny Dobson, who won gold with Team Canada’s under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in the Czech Republic in August 2017, is also a candidate to receive an invitation to Canada’s world junior team’s summer camp.
In Dobson, the Islanders have selected a very community-minded individual who has drawn considerable praise for his attitude and character, both on and off the ice. Two examples of this is Dobson’s a strong supporter of the Summerside Boys and Girls Club, and was named P.E.I.’s KidSport ambassador in December 2017. KidSport is a program that provides financial support to families so children can participate in sports.
Dobson emphasized he is “very excited” to be drafted by the Islanders, a team that has made headlines recently. The Islanders hired Lou Lamoriello as president and general manager, and named Barry Trotz, who guided the Washington Capitals to the 2018 Stanley Cup, as head coach just last week. All Lamoriello has done is win three Stanley Cups and appear in five finals with the New Jersey Devils, and oversaw the rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs during a three-year tenure as GM.
“(The Islanders) are headed in the right direction,” said Dobson. “They have lots of young talent (including NHL rookie of the year Matthew Barzal), have a Stanley Cup champion as their coach and Lou running the team as GM. It’s a great organization, and I’m very happy to be joining them.”
Dobson had a chance to talk to Lamoriello on Friday night, and again following the second day of the draft on Saturday.
“Lou wants to meet my parents, so we are going to go see him,” said Dobson in a phone interview with the Journal Pioneer about an hour before that scheduled meeting. “I got to meet him last night (Friday), and I got a call from Barry Trotz after I was drafted, and that was pretty cool.”
When asked if he could share anything from that conversation, Dobson answered: “Barry wasn’t here as the transition to the Islanders just happened, but he wanted to congratulate me. He said he loved my story, and that one thing he liked the most was the person I was off the ice.”
Trotz and Dobson won’t have to wait long to meet. Dobson was flying from Dallas to New York on Sunday for the Islanders’ development camp this week, an important event Dobson is looking forward to experiencing with a familiar face.
“It will be pretty cool to be there with (Summerside native) Ryan MacKinnon, who is my neighbour (in Summerside),” said Dobson, who played with MacKinnon’s brother, Carson, growing up.
MacKinnon signed with the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, in March 2018.
Dobson was also quick to point out that the outstanding support he has received from across P.E.I. has not gone unnoticed.
“My phone has been blowing up,” said Dobson. “I am just slowly starting to answer all of them. I want to thank all the people who supported me.
“Some of my buddies were all together (Friday) night watching the draft at the house of one of my old coaches, Rodney MacArthur.
“There were a lot of people there, so it was pretty cool. I really appreciate those guys supporting me. Without playing with some of those guys growing up, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s pretty special to share it with them as well.”
Some P.E.I. connections to New York Islanders:
The Islanders met the Florida Panthers in the first-ever National Hockey League game – an exhibition contest – played on P.E.I. That game was played in Summerside in September 2008.
The Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, played the Binghamton Senators in an American Hockey League regular-season game in Summerside later that season.
The Islanders have also played a couple of intra-squad games during training camp in Summerside.
The Islanders drafted Dave Cameron, who grew up in Kinkora, in the eighth round, 135th overall, in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft.
Suffolk native Ross Johnston, who played junior hockey with the Summerside Western Capitals and Charlottetown Islanders, played 24 games with the Islanders during the 2017-18 NHL regular season, and one in 2015-16. Johnston has played two years with the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Summerside native Brett Gallant played five seasons with the Sound Tigers, and appeared in four games with the Islanders during the 2013-14 season.
Summerside native Ryan MacKinnon, also a former Islander, completed the 2017-18 season with Bridgeport.
Charlottetown native Billy MacMillan was an assistant coach with the 1979-80 Islanders, who won the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups that season.
Former UPEI Panther and O’Leary Maroons’ senior player Dave Shellington of Charlottetown was a 10th-round selection of the Islanders, 197th overall, in 1983.