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Isaac Wilson is getting a taste of what life is like in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
The Moncton Wildcats called up the Vernon River native from the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League for three games last week. He’ll be back in the Wildcats’ lineup for Thursday’s home game against Chicoutimi.
“It was great,” said Wilson, describing his experience with the Wildcats. “I got to practise with them a little bit to see how life was up in Moncton.
“It was fast-paced and really good games. I learned a lot.”
The 17-year-old Wilson, who is still eligible to be playing midget hockey, was drafted by the Wildcats in the 10th round, 172nd overall, in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft. He has one assist and is a plus-3 in four games with the Wildcats as an affiliated player this season.
“He’s done a great job considering he is playing the wing there (with the Capitals) and he’s playing defence here,” said Wildcats head coach John Torchetti. “It’s a big applaud for him being able to switch from both sides.
“He’s come in, done a good job and has been put in tough situations, meaning he will come in and play a game with us without even having a day of practice and it doesn’t faze him.
“I’m amazed at how easy his transition is coming right in.”
An injury to former Western Capital Jordan Spence early in last Thursday’s 3-2 home-ice win over the Charlottetown Islanders opened up an opportunity for an increased workload for Wilson, who was also in the Wildcats’ lineup for Friday’s 5-1 win over Gatineau and Sunday’s 2-1 loss in Charlottetown.
Asked what he likes about Wilson’s game, Torchetti immediately focused on his skating.
“He’s a good skater and that helps you get back to the puck really quick,” said Torchetti. “That makes the decision on the first pass a little bit easier when you get back there and it gives you a lot of time to make the right play.
“The other part is he doesn’t really worry about mistakes and that. He just goes out and plays and that’s what we like about him. He just goes out and plays our game.”
Wilson has eight points in 17 regular-season games as primarily a forward in his rookie season with the Caps. He has also accumulated 40 penalty minutes and has not been scared to drop the gloves to stand up for himself or his teammates.
Capitals assistant coach Jason Gallant said Wilson, who played last year with the Kensington Wild of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League earned his opportunity with the Wildcats.
“It’s great for Isaac,” said Gallant. “He’s been all over the place playing forward and D.
“He’s an extremely high-character individual and he’s brought some skill and toughness.
“He’ll do whatever you ask him to do and it’s great for Isaac he’s getting recognized for that work.”
Wilson said playing with the Caps helped him transition to the QMJHL game.
“It’s a faster pace and it’s not a huge jump as we have more 20-year-olds in this league and I am used to playing with the bigger, heavier guys,” said Wilson. “It was definitely a lot more challenging and it was nice to be up there taking on the challenge.”
Wilson also has the opportunity to work closely with Wildcats assistant coach and Summerside native Darryl Boyce, who runs the team’s defence.
"He was working with me all weekend,” said Wilson. “It was really great getting some feedback and their perspective on things.”