The Charlottetown Islanders hope the Halifax goalie pipeline can continue to provide them with stability and big saves at key moments well into the future.
The Isles drafted Jacob Goobie 31st overall from the Halifax Macs with their top pick Saturday at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft in Quebec City. He is the latest Halifax goalie to be highly regarded by the Isles dating back to 2013-14.
Matthew Welsh is entering his fifth and final year with the organization after taking over as the starter from Mason McDonald. The Islanders also drafted Dakota Lund-Cornish in 2016 but traded him to Sherbrooke in January to provide him a chance for more ice time.
The Islanders top priority entering Saturday’s draft was to get a goalie of the future. Goobie, who helped the Macs win the Atlantics at MacLauchlan Arena in April, was the top-ranked goalie by central scouting and the Islanders main target.
“We’re thrilled to get him. We think he’s Matt Welsh 2.0,” Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said. “He was very, very high up on our list and we had our fingers crossed that he was still going to be there at our selection.”
The Islanders didn’t have a first-round pick this year as it was part of the package sent to Gatineau for forward Alex Dostie in January 2017.
Goobie wasn't able to attend the draft as he was one of 12 players at Hockey Canada’s under-17 goalie camp in Calgary. There were four goalies from east of the Quebec-Ontario border there with Goobie being the lone Atlantic Canadian.
Paul Drew, the Islanders goalie coach, was one of the goalie consultants at the Hockey Canada camp. Goobie was taking his gear out into the hallway when Drew stopped him to give him the draft news and welcome him to the Islanders organization.
“It was the greatest feeling, obviously. It was awesome,” Goobie said Saturday night after arriving back in Nova Scotia. “It would be an honour to play there. It’s a great city, great organization.”
Goobie has worked with Drew before at the Andrews Hockey Growth Programs.
“He’s just a great coach. He’s unbelievable,” he said.
The five-foot-nine, 167-pound Goobie went 10-6 with a 2.55 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage during the regular season. That improved to 4-0 in the playoffs with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. He also played for Nova Scotia at the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Goobie is from the same community – Upper Tantallon, N.S. – as Lund-Cornish and followed him up through the Timberlea Amateur Sports Association (TASA). They both played for the Halifax Gulls bantam squad and the Macs. He played with Welsh’s younger brother Zach, a defenceman drafted by Cape Breton two picks behind Goobie. Welsh and Goobie both work with Empire Goaltending’s Brad MacCharles so they are familiar with each other.
Hulton said Goobie is a very strong technical goalie who has an engaging personality, is smart and was a leader for his Macs squad.
“What we really liked was how competitive he was in the net in that Atlantic final,” Hulton said.
“He was pivotal. He beat a really, really good Kensington team and I thought he was the difference maker.”
After getting Goobie, the Islanders selected six-foot, 175-pound centre Justin Gill with the 32nd overall selection. Hulton said the scouts really liked the power forward this season and he had a strong interview with the club on Friday.
“He’s a big body, north-south guy that protects the puck well, an element we wanted to add into our lineup,” Hulton said. “We hope that he can round into a Pascal Aquin-type of player.”
He had 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in 40 games last season with the the St-Eustache Vikings in Quebec’s major midget league. The Islanders took Xavier Fortin from the Vikings in the third round of the 2018 draft and while the two went to the same school they didn't play together.
The Islanders took five-foot-10, 167-pound defenceman Luke Vardy with their third pick.
The Hammonds Plains, N.S., native had four goals and 26 assists for 30 points in 35 regular-season games this year with the Steele Subaru major midget squad.
While the Islanders have concentrated on adding skill in recent drafts it wanted to add some size this year. The organization’s decision makers felt it was able to accomplish that with Gill, Vardy and Ben Boyd, a six-foot-one, 181-pound forward, who played for the Cole Harbour Wolfpack in Nova Scotia last year.
Charlottetown picked three local boys in Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride forwards Alex Graham and Max Chisholm plus Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild defenceman Matt McQuaid.
“All three guys are scrappy, competitive guys,” Hulton said. “Every year you walk in wanting local guys. (Zach) Biggar and (Jacob) Squires went in areas we couldn't get to them.”
The U.S. portion of the draft goes Monday. The Islanders, like much of the league hasn’t had much traction there in recent years, so it will take the top two players when their turn to draft arrives and see what happens.
A look at the Islanders picks
31 – G Jacob Goobie, Halifax Macs.
32 – C Justin Gill, St-Eustache Vikings.
49 – RD Luke Vardy, Steele Subaru.
52 – traded to Cape Breton for 59 and 75.
59 – F Ryan Greene, Selects Academy prep school in Connecticut.
75 – F Ben Boyd, Cole Harbour Wolfpack
139 – C Charles-Edward Tardif, OHA Mavericks.
147 – C Alex Graham, Charlottetown Pride.
157 – D Matt McQuaid, Kensington Wild.
159 – F Michael Horth, Dynamiques CCL.
175 – RW Samuel Chabot, St-Eustache Vikings.
193 – RW Daniel Kline, Halifax Mac.
211 – C Massimo Gentile, Lac St-Louis Lions.
229 – C Sam Archibald, Pictou County.
247 – F Max Chisholm, Charlottetown Pride.