The Charlottetown Islanders are home at last.
The Isles had their first practice at the Eastlink Centre Tuesday, more than three weeks after training camp began. The Islanders’ home ice was unavailable as the arena was used for Old Home Week, and then the cleanup started.
“It’s great because it starts to feel normal,” head coach Jim Hulton said before Tuesday’s practice. “Our daily routine is up and running. . . This is kind of the last piece of the puzzle.”
The Islanders began training camp at the APM Centre in Cornwall and then moved to MacLauchlan Arena at UPEI. With the team at the university for practices, players would meet at the Eastlink Centre, change and drive uptown to hit the ice.
“The dress and drive is fine but it starts to get old after a while. You have to speed everything up with your video sessions and teaching,” Hulton said. “This allows us to do a lot more of the teaching stuff under a controlled environment.”
The rookies had been in the Eastlink Centre before but not on the ice prior to Tuesday.
“It’s great for our new players to get their first skate on the rink that's going to be home for a while,” Hulton said.
The Islanders had four players at NHL camps.
Goalie Matthew Welsh will return Wednesday after being with the Buffalo Sabres. Forward Thomas Casey and the Detroit Red Wings were in the championship game Tuesday night at a tournament in Traverse City, Mich. Forward Nikita Alexandrov also played in the tournament, but the Isles are anticipating he will go to the St. Louis Blues’ main camp. Defenceman Xavier Bernard is going to the New Jersey Devils’ main camp.
The Islanders re-assigned forward Luke Wilson to the Grand Falls Rapids of the Maritime Junior Hockey League on Tuesday.
The Isles acquired the 18-year-old Bedford, N.S., native from the Saint John Sea Dogs on Aug. 26 for defenceman Connor McCluskey. The Islanders will use Wilson as an affiliate player and would like to see improvement on his stride and see him add more of a physical dimension to his game.
The Islanders still have to decide whether Kevin Gursoy or Will Sirman, both forwards, will fill the third overage spot. Welsh and defenceman Brendon Clavelle are the other overage players.
What – A way the Charlottetown Islanders are celebrating the upcoming Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season. It includes a ball hockey jamboree and the season ticket holder barbeque.
When – Saturday.
Where – Eastlink Centre.
Ball hockey – The jamboree begins at 9 a.m. but pre-registration is required. It can be done online at charlottetownislanders.com.
Season ticket holders – Season ticket holders can stop by at 11 a.m. to get their tickets.
Team unveiling – The squad will be introduced at 1 p.m. with the members sticking around to sign autographs at 1:30 p.m. A hot stove session with head coach Jim Hulton, new assistant coach Kevin Henderson and the voice of the Islanders, George Matthews, will take place at 2 p.m.