Cape Breton West goaltender Kenzie MacPhail is one of five Islanders who will attend Junior hockey camps later this summer.
-by Bill Dunphy
Five Cape Breton West Major Midget Islanders will have the opportunity to show their stuff at Junior tryout camps later this summer.
One player, Inverness goaltender Kenzie MacPhail, will have two camps to attend.
The talented 16-year-old was drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on June 8 in Quebec City. He was their sixth-round pick, 102nd overall.
The following week at the Maritime Junior A Hockey League draft in Edmundston, New Brunswick, MacPhail was chosen in the fourth round, 63rd overall, by the Miramichi Timberwolves.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling to hear my name called by Cape Breton,” said MacPhail, who was in Quebec City with his parents, Sadine and Johnny, and his sister Keely.
“The draft was a real boost to my confidence. I’m on the ice three times a week. Cape Breton has two goalie coaches. Being a goaltender, there’s always room to get better. I’ll be ready when camp starts on Aug. 13 in Sydney.”
MacPhail said he’s in contact with Colten Ellis, who was drafted by the NHL’s St. Louis Blues last week. “He’s an amazing goaltender and it’s my goal to accomplish the same things he did.”
If he doesn’t crack the Screaming Eagles lineup this year, he will attend the Miramichi camp. But he is also keen to play another year of Major Midget.
“I look at what Colten and the other guys on the Telus Cup team did. It didn’t hurt their careers. We had 13 rookies including myself last year and if all those guys, like Neil MacLean and Sam Grant, come back, we’ll have a very good team.”
Neil MacLean, 17, of Port Hawkesbury, was a first-rounder at the MHL draft in Edmundston, chosen fourth overall by the Fredericton Red Wings. The left-shooting defenceman, at six feet, 180 lbs., anchored Cape Breton West’s defence last season. He’s the son of Shelly and Jason MacLean.
While overlooked in the QMJHL draft, MacLean said he has been invited to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan camp in August.
“I’m really excited to make that jump to Junior A. The GM in Fredericton is an assistant GM with Acadie-Bathurst, so there would be a good chance to AP (associated player) with them,” MacLean said.
Last season, MacLean played three games with Pictou County Junior A Crushers and one game the Strait Junior B Pirates.
He didn’t rule out the possibility of playing another year with the Islanders, but it would depend on what plans Fredericton’s coaching staff have for him.
“If I’m making the jump, I want to play. They want me to develop into the best player that I can be, and after talking to them, it seems like I’m going to be in a good spot for that to happen.”
Three other Islanders will also be heading to Junior A camps in August.
Defenceman Dylan Chisholm, of Antigonish, was drafted by the Valley Wildcats in the fourth round, 67th overall.
Forward Dave Matthews, of Louisdale, went to the Pictou County Crushers in the fifth round, 77th overall.
And forward Lewis Taylor, of Antigonish, also ended up with the Valley in round five, 84th overall.
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