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THE HOT CORNER: Western Red Wings have not skipped a beat, P.E.I. players selected for international hockey and Noah Dobson sees action in NHL

The Western Red Wings defeated the Kensington Vipers 4-3 in overtime to win the 2019 Don Johnson Memorial Cup Atlantic junior B hockey championship in Kensington on April 28.
The Western Red Wings following their victory at last season's Don Johnson Memorial Cup Atlantic junior B hockey championship in Kensington on April 28.

The Arsenault's Fish Mart Western Red Wings have not skipped a beat in the early stages of the 2019-20 Island Junior Hockey League season.

The defending provincial and Don Johnson Memorial Cup Atlantic junior B champions are on a torrid pace, winning their first 10 games and looking like the team to beat once again this year. 

The Wings have scored 59 goals while allowing only 13 in those 10 games. They obviously have plenty of offence and play a very good defensive game and those two attributes add up to success. Last year's team had an impressive overall record of 43-5-3 (won-lost-overtime losses) on their way to their first-ever Atlantic championship. With this year's great start, the Wings would have to be considered favourites to win it again. 

Head coach Nathan DesRoches and his staff have done an exceptional job. General manager J.C Gallant and sponsor Robert Arsenault of Arsenault's Fish Mart have done what it takes to build a winner and hats off to all three for a fine job. 

The Wings have won three straight league titles after their arch-rival, the Kensington Vipers, won the previous seven. The Vipers also won Atlantic titles in 2011 and 2013. 

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a dynasty as, "A powerful group that maintains its position for a considerable time.”

It is fair to say that the Island Junior Hockey League has, over the last 10 years, had one dynasty with the Vipers and have another one being built by the Red Wings. 

Great honour

It is very exciting and a great honour for two members of the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals to have been chosen for Team Canada East at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, B.C., from Dec. 7 to 15. Sixteen-year-old Zach Biggar and 18-year-old Colby MacArthur are having fine rookie seasons with the Caps and are being noticed. 

It will be a thrill to play against Russia, Czech Republic, United States and Team Canada West in the five-team tournament. Biggar and MacArthur were chosen from the 71 teams that make up the five eastern leagues that are a part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. 

It is an accomplishment for Biggar and MacArthur that one can bet will be one heck of a great experience. Good luck to both. 

Noah Dobson

Summerside native Noah Dobson is playing for the NHL's Islanders, but can't be sent down to the AHL. - Jason Malloy
Summerside native Noah Dobson is playing for the NHL's Islanders, but can't be sent down to the AHL. - Jason Malloy

Noah Dobson was in the lineup for the New York Islanders on Wednesday in Los Angeles. It was the Summerside native’s seventh game of the season and he has sat out the Islanders’ other 16 games. He has two assists to his credit. 

NHL rules state that Dobson cannot be sent to the American Hockey League, where he would get lots of playing time. He either has to remain with the Islanders or go back to junior, which at this point does not serve many purposes for the 19-year-old. 

I'm told that he will remain with the Islanders and he will get his chance. He obviously is the seventh defenceman on the Islanders’ depth chart and every team deals with injuries, which would open a spot for Dobson. 

The Islanders have a good team and have a tough lineup to crack. They are 7-1-2 (won-lost-overtime losses) in their last 10 games and are only three points out of the division lead and first overall in the Eastern Conference. Being around a winning team environment, and practising regularly along with learning the ropes of the NHL, will be good for Dobson. He has the talent and the opportunity will come. 

NHL 

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of several team in a tight top grouping of Eastern Conference NHL teams. Shown here is Kris Letang carrying the puck against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 27. - Reuters
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of several team in a tight top grouping of Eastern Conference NHL teams. Shown here is Kris Letang carrying the puck against the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 27. - Reuters

Most NHL teams have about 30 per cent of their schedule completed. As usual, there are a lot of teams in contention for playoff spots. 

As of the American Thanksgiving holiday, only 10 points separated all eight teams that are currently in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Another four teams are within four points of a division playoff spot while two other teams are only two points from a division playoff berth. 

There are six teams that are within six points of a wild-card position. It is equally as close in the Western Conference as four teams are within five points and four teams within four points of division playoff spots. Six teams are within three points of a wild-card position. 

Over the last 15 years, 75 per cent of the teams that held a playoff position on American Thanksgiving made the playoffs. 

Lopsided loss

Sheldon Keefe is the Leafs' new coach, and has an Island connection. - File
Sheldon Keefe is the Leafs' new coach, and has an Island connection. - File

The Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 on Wednesday in Detroit. These two longtime rivals are headed in completely different directions. 

The resurgent Leafs, under new coach Sheldon Keefe, are hot and legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. The Wings are the NHL's worst team and heading in the direction of finishing there and getting the best chance to draft the top pick in next June's amateur draft. 

The 6-0 loss was not the worst suffered by the Red Wings to a Leaf team. Back on Jan. 2, 1971, the Leafs shut out Detroit 13-0 in Toronto as Jacques Plante and Bruce Gamble shared the shutout. Jim Rutherford and Don MacLeod were peppered with 49 shots in Detroit’s net. 

The most lopsided shutout in NHL history was way back in January 1944 when the Red Wings blanked the Rangers 15-0. Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a local life insurance broker. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to joemacintyre18@gmail.com.

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