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Charlottetown Islanders receiving offensive contributions from many in QMJHL pre-season

Patrick LeBlanc has had a great pre-season for the Charlottetown Islanders.
Patrick LeBlanc has had a great pre-season for the Charlottetown Islanders. - Jason Malloy
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

One big question mark for the Charlottetown Islanders entering training camp was where the goals would come from.

They addressed the goaltending spot by acquiring veteran Colten Ellis to fill the starter’s role, handled superbly in recent years by Matthew Welsh, while allowing sophomore Jacob Goobie time to grow into the job.

They had five returning defencemen and a lot of familiar faces up front, but questions externally revolved around the offensive firepower the team was lacking.

Charlottetown has split four pre-season games while averaging more than five goals per game. That included lighting the lamp 19 times in two games at Bathurst, N.B., since the veterans joined the lineup.

“We’ve had a lot of depth in scoring,” said head coach Jim Hulton.

There’s been lots to like offensively, including a veteran who will be relied on to produce more this season.

“Cedric Desruisseaux has looked outstanding right from the drop of the puck on the first day,” Hulton said.

Overage forward Cedric Desruisseaux will be leaned on to be a key cog in the Charlottetown Islanders' offence this season. - Jason Malloy
Overage forward Cedric Desruisseaux will be leaned on to be a key cog in the Charlottetown Islanders' offence this season. - Jason Malloy

It is more like the player the Isles had anticipated they were acquiring as part of the return for defenceman Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph. Desruisseaux got off to a slow start in his new surroundings a year ago but had a good finish and has carried the momentum into his overage season with four points in two pre-season games.

The coaching staff has also been impressed with a couple of younger forwards, including top pick Sam Oliver, a Quispmasis, N.B., native.

“Sam has come in and he’s got better every day. He’s getting more comfortable, he’s a very smart hockey player, you can see that,” Hulton said, noting his hat trick Sunday in Bathurst.

“Ben Boyd has come as advertised. He’s had a consistent physical approach,” Hulton added of the six-foot-three, 204-pound Dartmouth, N.S., native. “And it’s been really nice to see Patrick LeBlanc get off the mark (strong) here.”

The Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, N.B., native had four assists in nine game after being drafted in the third round of 2018. He had the same number of points in 52 games as a regular last season.

He leads the team with eight points in four pre-season games in September.


Did you know?

• The Charlottetown Islanders have not named a captain and leadership team for the upcoming season.

• The team anticipates doing that next week in order to have someone in place for opening night.

• Defenceman Brendon Clavelle, who wore the C last year, graduated and is attending St. FX University. Brett Budgell, Thomas Casey and Nikita Alexandrov were the primary assistants in 2019-20.

• Head coach Jim Hulton said this year's team is a tight group. "There’s a quiet professionalism about this group that’s been impressive."


The team will complete the pre-season today in Dartmouth, N.S., with a 4 p.m. game with the Halifax Mooseheads. The games start counting in the standings Oct. 2 when the Islanders head to Moncton to open the regular season with the Wildcats.

“These last couple of weeks drag a little bit, so you can tell they’re itching to get going,” Hulton said.

The team will slow the duration of practices down but crank up the intensity in preparation for the season.

Goobie said there’s light at the end of the pre-season tunnel.

“Playing my first full game (last Sunday) it starts to feel more and more like the (regular) season and just gets you more excited to play,” he said.

jason.malloy@theguardian.pe.ca

@SportsGuardian

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