Islanders will have a chance to showcase their skill and desire this week for major junior hockey scouts in Boisbriand, Que.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Gatorade Excellence Challenge will take place Thursday to Sunday as teams put together their lists for the June 8 draft in Quebec City.
“The event is designed as kind of a final viewing for all the draft-eligible players,” said Prince Edward Island head coach Brad MacKenzie.
The roster is comprised of 2003-born players who were first-year midget players this season.
This year is a little unique where the age group played at the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta. Prince Edward Island did not hold an identification camp as it did the previous season, electing to take the Canada Games roster and add six players to replace the underage guys who competed in Red Deer but are not eligible for this year’s draft.
Most provinces would do something similar. Quebec does have two teams competing at the six-squad challenge while Quebec and Nova Scotia will be missing some players who are competing at the Telus Cup major midget national championship in Thunder Bay, Ont.
MacKenzie said the Island coaching staff, which includes brothers Cleve and Chas McNeil as assistant coaches, have preached playing a team game and being aggressive.
“I like the makeup of our team and the work ethic and buy in we’ve seen so far,” MacKenzie said. “I think you’re going to see us be very aggressive. We use the analogy you can sit back and be the prey or you can be the hunter. We’d rather be the hunter and give ourselves a chance and go after it.”
With the event being heavily scouted, MacKenzie said the importance of playing together remains critically important.
“We’ve really tried to preach that the better off our team (does) the better off that’ll make the individuals look,” he said. “Our goal is to play that team game and hopefully be playing as long as we can.”
Prince Edward Island opens play on Thursday against New Brunswick at noon Atlantic and Quebec Blue at 9 p.m. They play Newfoundland and Labrador Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Nova Scotia Saturday at noon.
Tanner Doiron is the squad’s trainer and John Blanchard the athletic therapist.
MacKenzie, who is an assistant with the Charlottetown Islanders, was also the head coach at last year’s event. With the Isles making it to the third round against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, he was only able to coach two of the games at the challenge.
A look at P.E.I.’s roster for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Gatorade Excellence Challenge that begins Thursday in Boisbriand, Que.