Season Preview – Pt 5

Merritt Islanders

Sticking with great logos we find ourselves face to face with the Merritt Islanders run by GM Ryan “I have a question” Daniels. There is nobody in the WNHL with his, let’s call it attention to detail. Even with all this attention the Islanders still found themselves in third place in 2019. Can Daniels right the ship, or will the Islanders run aground in the Welland Canal? Let’s analyze the Islanders.

In a historic move Daniels drafted an unproven rookie in the first round by taking Shawn Boychuk. This puts an incredible amount of pressure for the rookie to live up to especially since he was drafted strictly to pass Daniels the puck. In the second round, Daniels surprised absolutely nobody and selected Willard. What can you say about one of history’s greatest love stories. They are like Romeo and Juliet, in that they should both drink poison.

Great pass Willie, I’m so glad I drafted you

Daniels added to the veteran presence by drafting longtime WNHLers Tyler “The Original TJ” Stack and Jeff “Toe Drag” Donaldson. Stack, a veteran in the WNHL, also brings leadership experience as he was the first GM to win a WNHL All Star Game, while Donaldson was last seen trying to toe drag his grandmother. For the first time in a long time TJ will be the only Stack in the WNHL with his brother moving to an unknown location. I’m not sure where it is I just know you have to turn right to get there. Sandwiched in between these long time players is Pat Riley who impressed in his rookie year last season, not only with his play but also by way of long and established career in an NBA front office, which is a joke I’m sure he’s never heard before.

Donnie’s grandmother was having none of his shit

In another unprecedented move Daniels made the first ever mid draft trade by sending over Andy Doyle to the Atlas Steelers in return for Gav “Syphilis” Sardella. Daniels then picked up Carm “Probably not even close to his last name, but I know it ends in a vowel” Gugliemi to complete the greasiest blueline you’ve ever seen. (By greasy I mean in terms of their hockey skills and abilities. This should not be intended in any other way).

I play-a the defence ova here!

Looking at a lineup with guys like Daniels and Willard, mixed with floaters like Donaldson and Stack, the Islanders knew they needed some actual work ethic, and they went and found it in the championship rounds. Bringing in Shawn “Greyhound” McKinnon, who earned the nickname by riding a bus from Hamilton to play in the WNHL, Shawn “The Hacker” Strohak, and Evan “Spielberg” Fabiani. In my opinion, these are some strong selections for the Islanders. Somebody has to dig the puck out of the corners for all the prima donnas on this team.

Finally we come to the last two rounds, and two of the most controversial picks in the draft. Pete “Peewee” Voynovich and Dev “Belmont” Skinner. Are there two more polarizing players in the WNHL? I want to rephrase that question because one has to play to be considered a player in the WNHL. In one corner you have Pete Voynovich, who is one of the most beloved WNHL players off the ice, is so friendly he insists on hugging you on the ice. He will apologize profusely while he pulls on your jersey preventing a break away. Will actual referees find his on ice antics as charming?

Then in the other corner….well…

Hey look it’s Dev Skinner and his super believable excuses.

The Islanders will be a group to watch this year, there is a lot of top end, some might say soft, talent, and some good workhorses. Can they mesh under Daniels unique management style? Will texts at 2 a.m. with personalized game plans be a bother to players? Will the clients at Daniels work care that they are putting pucks in the net but the defence is killing them? Lots of questions for the Islanders this year, but still less than Daniels.

The quest for the King Street Cup begins October 7th, against the Atlas Steelers.