P.E.I. contingent off to Week 1 of Canada Winter Games
Never give up on your dreams, and Stratford, P.E.I., native Zack MacEwen is a perfect example of why we should not.
The 22-year-old six-foot-four and 212-pound MacEwen has combined a nice blend of talent, toughness, size, grit and – most of all – hard work to make it all the way to the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. He made his NHL debut this past week, and what a proud moment it was for him and his family in Vancouver, where the Canucks lost 7-2 to the Sharks.
Just four years ago, MacEwen was playing against the Summerside Western Capitals as a member of the Amherst Ramblers in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League). He had 29 goals and 52 points as a Rambler in the 2014-15 season, and made his presence felt accumulating 103 penalty minutes. MacEwen went on to play two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior League with Moncton and Gatineau, where he scored 41 goals and 114 points.
He was a free-agent signing by the Canucks to start the 2017-18 season, and spent the last two campaigns with their top farm team in Utica, N.Y., as a member of the Comets. He garnered another 27 goals and 75 points in Utica before his call up to the Canucks last Sunday.
It is a real nice story of what hard work and determination can bring to a young hockey player chasing a dream. His success will be an inspiration to many young athletes, and hopefully, for MacEwen, it is the start of a real good NHL career.
Islanders in the NHL
MacEwen is the 33rd P.E.I. native to play in the NHL. He is the third Islander to play in the league this year, joining Adam McQuaid of the New York Rangers and former Western Capital Ross Johnston, who has suited up with the New York Islanders.
In terms of all-time points, the top five P.E.I.-born players include Brad Richards (932), Al MacAdam (591), Bob MacMillan (577), Gerard Gallant (480) and Errol Thompson (393). Gallant is the all-time penalty minutes leader of P.E.I.-born players with 1,674.
There have been 188 players born in the Atlantic provinces play in the NHL, led by Nova Scotia with 75, New Brunswick 51 and Newfoundland and Labrador with 29. Ontario is the all-time leader with 2,304 while the Yukon has had just two players play in the NHL.
MacEwen is the fifth Prince Edward Island-born player to play with the Vancouver Canucks.
Can you name the other four?
The answer will come next week!
The 14th Canada Winter Games gets underway this weekend in Red Deer, Alta., with P.E.I. sending a contingent of 222 – 153 athletes, 54 team officials and 15 mission staff.
There are 19 Island teams taking part in 15 sports over the two-week period. The first Canada Games were held in Quebec City in 1967, and the best medal haul for P.E.I. since was in 2003 in Bathurst/Campbellton. P.E.I. athletes had seven medals in those Games, including three silver and four bronze.
The Winter Games take place every four years, with the 2023 Games slated for P.E.I. Good luck to Team P.E.I.
The New York Islanders are one of the great success stories this NHL season. Expected to be a non-contender this year with the loss of their best player, John Tavares, the Islanders instead have been the surprise team. They are in a battle for second overall in the Eastern Conference, and are the leaders of the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders are an example of what a great coach can do for a team, and the Isles’ Barry Trotz is one of the best. His defence-first approach has the Islanders allowing the least amount of goals in the conference.
Their goaltending tandem of Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss share the net, and have provided great goaltending. The Isles have not had a combo like them since the Islander teams of the late 1970s had Billy Smith and Glen (Chico) Resch tending goal.
It is great to see an underdog do well, and hopefully the success continues for the Islanders.
Have a great week!
Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.