Using skill within structure can be deadly mix for Islanders: Hulton

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 11, 2017

Charlottetown Islanders forward Filip Chlapik, left, and Kameron Kielly battle for the puck during Tuesday's practice.

©Jason Malloy/TC Media

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Check the fancy plays at the door and play simple hockey was one of the messages Charlottetown Islanders head coach Jim Hulton delivered during Tuesday’s practice.

It comes after the team added some of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s top talent during the past few weeks. Hulton has been preaching the team’s identity of being a hard-working, disciplined squad has to remain.

“What we’re trying to . . . convince them is that when they use their skill within the confines of a little bit of structure they can be deadly,” he said. “We started to see the fruits of that labour even later on in practice. When they go in straight lines and make short skill plays, they’re very dangerous.”

The Islanders (24-13-2-0) have the opportunity to show they listened tonight in Halifax against the Mooseheads (18-19-1-2). Game time is 7 p.m.

The Mooseheads are led by the league’s leading scorer in Maxime Fortier, who has 63 points in 40 games, and import Nico Hischier, who starred for Switzerland at the world junior championships.

“They’re sneaky talented,” Hulton said, noting the Islanders have lost both games in Halifax this season.

The Islanders will have their first opportunity to play against former Islanders forward Jake Coughler since Friday’s trade.

“It’s going to be an exciting game,” Islanders centre Kameron Kielly said. “He’ll be ready to go, I think. He’ll have some fire in his tummy.”

Kielly and Coughler found chemistry on the ice last year on a line with Samuel Blais. They spent a lot of time off the ice, living close to one another and going to school together.

Kielly said he’s been through close teammates being traded before, including Ryan Graves and Bradley Kennedy, who was dealt to Halifax at the 2016 draft.

“You meet them at the red-line in warmup and maybe say a few words,” he said. “As soon as the puck drops, it’s really not a big deal. It’s kind of two teams going at it.”

After the Mooseheads acquired Coughler, they traded Kennedy to Moncton. He has decided to play his final junior season with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.