Carson MacKinnon is looking to do something Monday he has never done in his major junior career.
“I have actually never won a game in Charlottetown in my four years there so far,” he said Saturday night. “I’m hoping to change that this Monday. I know there’s going to be a lot of my family and friends there watching the game. It’s always special coming home for me considering I haven’t been home for a very long time.”
The 20-year-old Summerside native left home after registering 36 points in 30 games with the Summerside Capitals in his first season of bantam AAA hockey. He spent the next two seasons with the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask.
MacKinnon was drafted in the fourth round (61st overall) by the Rimouski Oceanic in the 2015 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft. His older brother Ryan played three seasons with the Oceanic from 2011-2014 before finishing his junior career by captaining the Charlottetown Islanders.
With a glut of overage players on its roster, the Oceanic traded MacKinnon to the Gatineau Olympique in June for a fourth-round pick in 2019 and Victoriaville’s second-round pick in 2020.
MacKinnon and former Islanders right-winger Matthew Grouchy were brought in to add experience for a rebuilding Olympiques team. MacKinnon said his transition went well, which he said was helped by knowing Grouchy, Mathieu Bizier from his Rimouski days and Charlottetown’s Chris McQuaid from their time playing spring hockey for the P.E.I. Riptide and against one another in minor hockey.
But the Olympiques struggled out of the gate. After winning their opener, they went 0-8-2-0 in their next 10 games as players looked to build chemistry and learn new systems.
The tides have turned in recent weeks.
Gatineau (6-11-3-0) has not lost in regulation in its last five games, going 4-0-1-0. It included sweeping weekend games in Rimouski, Que., earning a 5-2 win Friday and collecting a 4-3 shootout victory Saturday.
“We were playing one of the best teams in the league and in probably one of the hardest rinks to play in,” said MacKinnon, who scored a goal in both games and was named the third star on Saturday.
“Being here for four years it was different being on the other side for once,” he added. “Getting two wins was definitely huge for the team.”
Now MacKinnon is coming back to Charlottetown for the Olympiques’ lone visit to the Eastlink Centre this season. MacKinnon and his Rimouski’s squad lost all four regular season games in Charlottetown the past four seasons and the Islanders won all three playoff games in the first-round series in MacKinnon’s rookie season in 2016.
Monday’s game is set for 3 p.m.
“It’s crazy how fast these last four years have gone by,” MacKinnon said. “It’s definitely going to be special for me coming home possibly for the last time in my junior career.”
MacKinnon knows his junior career is winding down but isn’t closing any doors for what next year will bring. He just wants to focus on the present and enjoy his final junior season.
The Islanders (12-5-3-0) are also coming off a key 3-2 victory over the Cape Breton Eagles Saturday night in Sydney, N.S., with a depleted lineup.
Season GP G A Pts.
2015-16 65 7 7 14
2016-17 65 13 14 27
2017-18 65 13 22 35
2018-19 68 16 30 46
2019-20 20 3 11 14