CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – A New Year’s Eve visit to Moncton put things in perspective for Bailey Webster.
The 20-year-old Kelvin Grove native had made the trip about four times each of the past four seasons, but he knew the Dec. 31 visit would be his last to the Moncton Coliseum during the regular season.
The stay-at-home defenceman is putting the finishing touches on a five-year major junior career with the Saint John Sea Dogs, which included a President Cup victory a year ago.
“It’s really starting to sink in,” Webster said. “It’s tough. You know you’re never going to do this stuff again.”
Webster made his last stop in Charlottetown on Feb. 25 in a 5-3 loss to the Islanders.
“It was nice, they gave me the third star,” he said.
The two teams had a strong rivalry a year ago with each team adding top-end talent to the roster for a deep playoff runs. The Islanders were eliminated in the semifinal, erasing the possibility of a Maritime matchup for the Q title.
The Sea Dogs are in the midst of a rebuild and will need to go on a big win streak to get into the post-season dance this season.
“It’s definitely a huge change,” Webster said when asked to compare the atmosphere around the Saint John-Charlottetown rivalry this season to 2016-17. “There were a couple of games in Quebec (this season) where I was the only guy from the team last year.”
He said his major junior career has been a fun ride and an enjoyable experience. He is now wearing the captain’s C after the Dec. 19 trade of Joe Veleno to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He looks back to the guys who led the squad when he was breaking into the league for an example on how to lead this year’s young group. The list included veterans Spencer Smallman, Mark Tremaine, Matthew Highmore, Adam Bateman and Jack Van Boekel.
“I think it’s important to be a part of that rebuild this year,” Webster said. “It’s good for experience and good for me to lead the younger guys.”
Webster is unsure what next year will bring, but has left both the university and pro doors open. He has spoken to a number of teams and mentioned the UPEI Panthers have been aggressive in their pursuit to land the local talent.
Need to know
Who – A 20-year-old Kelvin Grove native who is in final season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Size, position – Webster is a six-foot-four, 215-pound defenceman.
Season GP G A Pts. PIM
2013-14 7 0 3 3 4
2014-15 54 1 5 6 61
2015-16 31 0 3 3 32
2016-17 57 2 9 11 47
2017-18 60 1 8 9 40