The Charlottetown Islanders have trimmed its training camp roster by seven.
The Islanders released defencemen Nicolas Bourque and Lucas MacAulay plus forwards Cameron Brown, Charles-Olivier Nadeau, Michael Horth, Kurtis Lang and Luke Akerman after Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Moncton Wildcats at the APM Centre in Cornwall.
Islanders’ head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said for many it is their first exposure to the program and was a chance to get some experience at the major junior level.
The cuts leave the Islanders with four goalies, eight defencemen and 11 forwards. The 16 returning players are scheduled to report on Sunday.
“For the guys that survived the first round of releases, you’re in the hunt,” Hulton said Wednesday. “There’s only a few spots open, make sure you do something that separates yourself from the crowd.”
The players have their next chance to showcase their hockey sense and skill Thursday when the Islanders travel to Lameque, N.B., to play the Acadie-Bathurst Titan before hosting the Titan Saturday at 3 p.m. in Cornwall.
Hulton said the coaching staff has challenged the players to get better each day.
“I thought they accomplished that at last night’s game,” he said Wednesday. “We want to see the group take another step.”
Hulton said there isn’t a specific number of players the team is trying to get down to before the returning players arrive.
“I’d like to get to down to where we can narrow in on positional battles,” he said.
He’d like to have no more than three players per position but if there’s four or five guys equal, so be it.
“We’re encouraging these kids to make our decisions difficult.”
While teams don’t like to say too much about players battling for positions at this time of the year, Hulton said he was happy with the trio of Gaetan Jobin, Keiran Gallant and Patrick LeBlanc from Tuesday’s game.
Jobin was the team’s pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft and LeBlanc was a third-round pick in 2018 while Gallant went in the 13th round in 2018. The Covehead native had 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 35 games for the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild a year ago.
“We knew from watching him fairly closely last year that he had the ability to (have) this year’s Zac Beauregard type of impact at camp and he hasn't disappointed,” Hulton said. “He’s played with energy, he’s played with speed, he’s played with tenacity and grit – a lot of the elements that we’re looking for in those positions.”
An example of that came as Gallant took a stick to the face that cut his lip in the first period of Tuesday’s game. It resulted in a few stitches, but he came back to score a shorthanded goal on a breakaway 42 seconds into the middle stanza.
“It takes a lot to knock him down and last night was a perfect example,” Hulton said. “A couple of stitches weren’t going to deter him from having a big impact on the game.”
Gallant and LeBlanc each had a goal and an assist Tuesday while Akerman and Jobin (empty-net goal) also scored in the victory.
Jack Tucker, a 19-year-old defenceman, had two assists while second-round pick Justin Gill had one.
Manuel Alberg tied the game 1-1 with a shorthanded marker in the first period. Kyle Foreman made it 3-2 with 2:08 left.
Jacob Goobie stopped 11 of 12 shots in 29:40 in the victory before Chad Arsenault stopped 15 of 16 in relief.
Stratford’s Erik MacInnis allowed two goals on 10 shots in 29:40 while Giovacchino DiMattia allowed one of 16 shots.
The game was tied 1-1 after the first period while Charlottetown took a 3-1 lead to the third.
Charlottetown was 0-for-4 on the power play but killed all three of Moncton’s chances.
A look at the players still at the Charlottetown Islanders’ training camp.