Former Rocket/Islanders share memories, wish team well in Round 3
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – “Play hard and enjoy the moment” is the overwhelming message from former P.E.I. Rocket and Charlottetown Islanders to this year’s team.
Kameron Kielly is an assistant captain with the Charlottetown Islanders.
©Jason Malloy/The Guardian
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Kameron Kielly’s first P.E.I. Rocket memory came when he was 12 years old.
The Charlottetown native was at what was then the Civic Centre when Joel Champagne lit up the Halifax Mooseheads on Dec. 4, 2009.
“I remember him getting like seven points in a game and me sitting up there and saying, ‘Holy frig that looked easy,’” Kielly recalled. “It was kind of cool to see.”
Daniel Sprong tied Champagne for the franchise record of seven points in a game on March 8.
Kielly’s name will be all through the Charlottetown Islanders record book whenever his junior career ends this season, but he’s not thinking about the past. It’s all about tonight and helping the Charlottetown Islanders continue to build on its best season ever.
“It doesn't matter at all,” he said of the records, “as long as we keep producing and playing as we are. As long as there’s another game tomorrow, then I’m happy.”
The Islanders host the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada tonight at 7 p.m. in Game 1 of the third round. It is the deepest the Islanders have ever made it in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
And Kielly has been a big part of the team’s success.
“He’s been a catalyst for this team right from Day 1,” head coach Jim Hulton said. “He’s that scrappy, gritty, competitive, 200-foot player. He’s equally adept at the defensive side of the game as he is on offence. Case in point, he’s on the first unit of the power play and the penalty kill. We rely on him in a lot of situations.”
Kielly has played the fourth-most regular season games in franchise history and is tied with Sprong for the most playoff games (34).
Sprong was drafted by the Islanders in June 2013, while Charlottetown traded for Kielly in August. The two are the only players remaining from the first season of the rebranded Islanders. The staff remaining includes athletic therapist Kevin Elliott, equipment manager Andrew (Spider) MacNeill and goaltenders’ coach Paul Drew.
“(We) went through the rollercoaster, the ups and downs,” Kielly said. “Everyone is excited, looking forward to the atmosphere and just can’t wait to get (the third round) going.”
Kielly had his best offensive year this season, scoring 35 goals and recording 74 points in 65 regular season games. He’s added five more goals and 10 points in eight playoff games.
The versatile forward had nine game-winning goals during the regular season and three in the last series against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
He can’t explain why the puck is finding him in key moments, only to say it’s about getting opportunities from the coaching staff and his teammates making great plays.
Centre Filip Chlapik said Kielly is a great linemate and teammate.
“I like playing with him. He does the right things. He doesn't cheat. He’s always ready for the game,” Chlapik said. “He’s a big piece of this team and we wouldn’t be here without that guy.”
And his value goes deeper than goals and assists, according to Chlapik.
“Even if he doesn't score, he can be the best player on the ice because he kills penalties and blocks shots,” the pivot said. “He can do so many things to make us better.”
While Kielly is a good hockey player, he’s also acutely aware of those who helped him improve, and the young players working to make the Isles team successful who fly under the radar on a deep roster.
Kielly said former Islanders Ryan Graves, Ryan MacKinnon and Ross Johnston all have been a big influence on him. Graves lived with Kielly’s family after being a first-round pick of the Rocket, and it was his maturity that impressed Kielly the most.
MacKinnon and Johnston only played one season with the Isles, but Kielly said they helped lay the foundation for this year’s team.
“They taught guys like me and Sprong how to be pros on a day-to-day basis,” Kielly said. “There wasn't a day or practice they weren’t early for or weren’t the first ones here, last ones off the ice. True pros and great guys.”
Kielly wanted to give a shoutout to youngsters Sam King and Hunter Drew for their work ethic, despite not dressing for games regularly after the trade acquisitions.
“They don't get as much credit as they deserve. They put time in each day.”
It is that kind of leadership that makes Kielly the well-rounded asset who helps drives the Isles success while inspiring the next generation of Island hockey players.
Getting to know
Who – A 20-year-old Charlottetown native, who has played four seasons with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This is his final junior season. He has attended NHL camps with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings.
Did you know? Kielly scored the game-winning goal in his first game as a Charlottetown Islanders forward. The power-play goal on Sept. 13, 2013, was the first game of the rebranded Islanders franchise. It came in a 5-2 win at the Eastlink Centre. Daniel Sprong and Alexis Pépin had assists.
Kielly said: “It’s not over yet. There’s a long way to go yet. I’m pretty excited and just grateful for the opportunity I’ve had in my hometown.”
Coach Jim Hulton said: “I think he’s at the stage now where he wants to leave a true mark in the history books of the franchise. He’s a local kid. It probably means more to him than anyone in the dressing room because he’s grown up as a Rocket/Islander fan and to be able to have a chance to push this team into uncharted waters is something very special for him.”
Season GP G A Pts.
2016-17 65 34 40 74
2015-16 48 15 27 42
2014-15 67 16 33 49
2013-14 66 10 21 31
2012-13 60 2 4 6
Franchise record book
A look at some of Kameron Kielly’s career numbers in the Charlottetown Islanders franchise record book, which dates back to the team’s beginning as the Montreal Rocket in 1999. Some of the positions in the record book are tied with other players.
Games Seventh 246
Goals 13 75
Game-winning goals Third 17
Assists Eighth 121
Points Ninth 196
Games First 34
Goals Fifth 9
Game-winning goals First 4
Assists Eighth 13
Points Fifth 22