Daily forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
International Women's Day 2021: Building an equal future in Atlantic ...
SPECIAL REPORT: Facets of family violence
CODE COVID: What the pandemic has taught us about long-term care
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
Business Tool Kit 2021
IN DEPTH: Covering a contentious lobster fishery
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
The Charlottetown Islanders took to the ice Sunday night for the first time in more than five months.
The Isles opened training camp at MacLauchlan Arena after the final games of the 2019-20 regular season and the playoffs were wiped out by the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic in mid-March.
“I think the best news that a lot of us have got in 2020 was that we’re starting Oct. 1,” said veteran winger Thomas Casey. “It was great to be back around all of the guys and the staff and being back in the rink doing what we all love to do.”
Twenty of the 31 players invited to camp were on the ice Sunday night. The two imports from the Czech Republic are still awaiting clearance from the federal government to enter the country. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) is working with the government on behalf of its 18 teams.
The seven Quebec-based players had one day remaining in their quarantine while Ontario defenceman Ryan Maynard had two. Drew Johnston remained in Saint John, N.B., with strep throat.
Head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said there was an excitement in the air as training camp opened.
“That part felt normal,” he said. “They’re excited to get going.”
He noted the QMJHL is the only one of the three circuits that comprise the Canadian Hockey League up and running.
“It’s a privilege,” Hulton said. “We’re back on the ice.”
There are new protocols implemented at this year’s camp, including sessions being closed to the public and masks being worn inside the arena. Players and staff do not have to wear masks on the ice.
“We’re all used to a new normal nowadays,” Casey said. “The way things are, it’s going to keep everyone safe and that’s the priority above all.”
The Islanders did on-ice fitness testing on Sunday night. Casey said it was good to get it done and move on to practices.
“You can’t simulate on-ice testing in the gym no matter how hard you train,” he said Sunday night. “I think we’re all going to sleep (well).”
The Islanders begin the pre-season with back-to-back games in Moncton on Wednesday and Thursday.
“With the smaller group, it actually helps that we’re jumping right into games,” Hulton said.
The Isles will play all five of their pre-season games on the road as they have not received clearance from the province for contact practices or games.
Charlottetown will play the first six games of the regular season on the road as the Eastlink Centre is prepared for the season after hosting the COVID-19 testing clinic as well as a cough and fever clinic in the spring and summer.