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Grouchy ready for big year with Isles

Matthew Grouchy of Labrador City, shown here is this file photo from last season, hopes to have a big season for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders, in this his draft year.
Matthew Grouchy of Labrador City, shown here is this file photo from last season, hopes to have a big season for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders, in this his draft year.

It's a big year for Charlottetown Islanders centre Matthew Grouchy, and he knows it.

"It's a good opportunity to show the team and the scouts that I can play in this league and hopefully make an impact," said the Labrador City native.

Grouchy, 18, is into his second full Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season with the Islanders.

The 18-year-old year is typically an NHL draft year for a player, but Grouchy has the added weight of being one of the revamped Islanders' go-to players following the departure of several veterans this year, including snipers Daniel Sprong and Filip Chlapik, who are turning pro this season in the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators organizations.

Grouchy knows as his ice time goes up, so do the expectations, so he's relying on the solid formula he concocted last season with linemates Pascal Aquin and Keith Getson to live up to those heights.

"We have a really good chemistry and (hopefully) be a good year for us. We have to step up to the plate," he said.

Former Islander general manager Grant Sonier selected Grouchy in the sixth round (101st overall) of the 2015 QMJHL draft.

Grouchy came to training camp that year, but left to maintain his NCAA eligibility.

He returned last season, committed to the Isles and had a solid year with 11 goals, 28 points and finishing plus-16 in 62 games.

He added three points in 12 playoff games.

This season, Isles head coach Jim Hulton expects a jump in the 6-1, 189-pound Grouchy's play because he's bigger, stronger and more confident after a full season in the Q.

"Matthew has shown a lot of maturity as a player and a person on and off the ice. His play is exactly what we expected," said Hulton, who doubles as Isles GM. "He's a little heavier, but he's a work in progress because of his body type. His confidence is high and when you're confident you play faster and think faster because you're sure of yourself."

The Islanders opened a new season last weekend with a pair of games at home. They lost 3-1 to the Moncton Wildcats on the season-opener Friday night, and 3-2 to the Halifax Mooseheads the next evening.

Grouchy, who left home at 13 to pursue the NHL dream, started the chase at the Canadian International Hockey Academy in Ottawa, playing under current Isles associate coach Guy Girouard.

That dream is a bit closer now, and Grouchy can see the possibilities this year might bring.

"I doesn't seem real. It's surreal. I'm trying to get the opportunity to get invited to a combine, or get drafted by an NHL team,” he said. “With the coaching staff helping me here and my agent (working for me), I think they can help get me in the right direction."

 

Charlottetown Guardian

 

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League kicked off its 2017-18 season over the weekend. Eleven Newfoundlanders — 12, if you count the injured Kyle McGrath — are currently on QMJHL rosters:

Acadie-Bathurst Titan — The Titan feature a pair of players from this province — Gander’s Jordan Maher and Adam Holwell of St. John’s. Bathurst had a win and shootout loss over the weekend, with Holwell drawing an assist in each game. In Sunday’s 7-4 win over the Moncton Wildcats, Holwell was plus-five, and Maher was the third star of the game with one assist and plus-two rating. Holwell is an overager, and Maher is in his fourth season.

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles — Rookie forward Kyle McGrath from St. John’s will be out eight to 12 weeks with a fractured collarbone. He suffered the injury on a hit from Pascal Aquin of the Charlottetown Islanders in an exhibition game Sept. 16. Aquin was suspended eight games by the league as a result. McGrath of St. John's appeared in five games for the Screaming Eagles last season after Cape Breton acquired his rights in a trade with Charlottetown. But McGrath played primarily in the NL major midget loop, finishing fifth in league scoring.

Charlottetown Islanders — Forward Matthew Grouchy of Labrador City is the only native of the Big Land in the QMJHL.

Drummondville Voltigeurs — Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts, who turns 16 Wednesday, scored a goal in his first QMJHL game, a 4-2 Drummondville Voltigeurs loss to the Huskies Saturday night in Rouyn-Noranda. On Sunday, his teammate and cousin, Zach Bennett, made his first QMJHL start in a 6-5 shootout win over the Val d’Or Foreurs.

Halifax Mooseheads — They didn’t register any points, but Joel Bishop, a third-year QMJHL player from St. John’s, and rookie Kyle Petten of Bay Roberts helped the Mooseheads to a pair of opening-weekend wins.

Quebec Remparts — Marytown’s Andrew Picco is a veteran at 20 on the Remparts — one of only three 20-year-olds on the squad — but he had a solid opening weekend, registering an assist in a 3-1 win over Chicoutimi Friday, and following up with a plus-two performance in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Baie-Comeau. Picco played two full seasons for the Rimouski Oceanic, before splitting the 2016-17 year between Rimouski, Quebec and the Maritime junior league’s Campbellton Tigers. Jesse Sutton of Mount Pearl, a fourth-year Remparts forward (he missed most of his rookie season to injury) was held off the scoresheet in both games.

Shawinigan Cataractes — Rookie Lucas Fitzpatrick, a St. John's native who now lists Lower Sackville, N.S. as his residence, was Russian goalie Mikhail Denisov’s understudy in the Cataractes’ first two games of the season, both losses.  Shawinigan acquired the 17-year-old's rights in a January trade with the Remparts. Fitzpatrick was a second-round draft pick of Quebec in 2016.

Sherbrooke Phoenix — Lucas Fitzpatrick’s older brother, Evan, a St. Louis Blues draft pick, lost both his starts to open the season in northern Quebec against Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or.

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