The Charlottetown Islanders began the 2018-2019 season with two 16-year old players on the roster. Defenseman Lukas Cormier shone in training camp and continued to do so in the regular season, finishing the season as one of the top goal-scoring defenders in the league. Forward Xavier Fortin forced his way on to the main roster with an impressive camp and will look to build on his success this year.
Another player, however, began making his name while playing major midget. Patrick LeBlanc didn’t make the Islanders out of training camp, but went back to the Moncton Flyers of the NBPEIMMHL, where he could be a leader on his team. He certainly accomplished that, recording 74 points in 35 games last season, good for second in the entire league.
His play earned him an extended call-up with the Islanders near the end of the season when Charlottetown ran in to injury issues. Just 16 years old at the time, LeBlanc didn’t look out of place, recording four points in nine games before re-joining the Flyers for their playoff run.
This time, he’s hoping his stay will be permanent.
“I’m very excited,” said Leblanc on his second training camp. “As long as I play my game, I believe everything will fall in to place.”
Leblanc said that those nine games at the end of last season were huge not just for his game, but for his approach to this training camp and this upcoming season.
“Whenever you play your first few games, there are always some nerves,” said Leblanc. “I was lucky enough to get that out of the way early with my games last year.”
“I think because of that, I’ll be able to step in and play a good role.”
Someone that played a big role for the Islanders last season is a player that Leblanc knows very well: the aforementioned Lukas Cormier. Leblanc and Cormier are cousins that both live in the same community of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, New Brunswick. The experience that Cormier brought home has helped Leblanc heading in to this season.
“I’ve been training with Lukas all summer. He’s pushed me every day; I think it’s going to make it easier for me to step in and hopefully make the team.”
One of the things Leblanc says he worked on was his off-ice strength, while at the same time focusing on his on-ice speed. Like most players looking to make the jump from major midget to major junior, those are the two biggest adjustments.
With the Islanders looking to fill a few forward spots this season, Leblanc will have every opportunity to continue to showcase his offensive skills that he displayed in his 35 games in Moncton, along with his nine in Charlottetown
“I had a great experience playing a few games last season, and I just wanna take advantage of that,” said Leblanc. “If I just play my game, a strong two-way game, I’ll have a good shot.”