Re­turn to sender?

Is­lan­ders call-up making bid to stay with big club past trade dead­line

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY RYAN COOKE

As his Truro Bearcats team­mates wrapped up prac­tice on Tues­day af­ter­noon, Johnny Fo­ley was pass­ing through town on a bus.

The Bearcats rookie was with his other team – the Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders – head­ing to Hal­i­fax for his eighth con­sec­u­tive Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League game.

Each day is a test for Fo­ley, and the next 24 hours may prove whether or not he stays with the big club or re­turns to Truro.

“Our plan is to send him back, but he’s making it real dif­fi­cult for us,” Is­lan­ders gen­eral man­ager Grant Sonier said on Tues­day.

Since head­ing to the Is­lan­ders on Dec. 11, Fo­ley has scored twice and main­tained an even plus-mi­nus rat­ing while play­ing on the fourth line. The Is­lan­ders ros­ter has seen plenty of turnover, with Daniel Sprong re­turn­ing from the NHL, Filip Ch­lapik head­ing to the world ju­nior tour­na­ment, and sev­eral trades tak­ing place prior to to­day’s trade dead­line. The plan was for Fo­ley to be a bot­tom-six pres­ence un­til the ros­ter found sta­bil­ity, at which point he was promised back to the Bearcats.

But things may not turn out that way.

“I like it here and I really want to stay,” Fo­ley said. “Really badly.”

The 17-year-old Ham­monds Plains, N.S., na­tive made the Is­lan­ders out of train­ing camp, but was re­turned to Truro in late-Septem­ber. In 17 Mar­itime Ju­nior Hockey League games, he posted two goals and eight as­sists.

Many as­pects of his game have grown since the Is­lan­ders made him an 11th-round draft pick last sum­mer, Sonier said. Chief among them has been his skat­ing.

“It seems to be in­dica­tive of some good coach­ing he’s re­ceiv­ing there in Truro, be­cause he’s cer­tainly grown a lot un­der Shawn (Evans)’s tute­lage since we saw him at the start of the sea­son.”

Fo­ley ad­mit­ted he was let down when he was sent back to Truro, burst­ing his expectations of play­ing a full sea­son in the Q.

“At the start of the year I was pretty dis­ap­pointed to be head­ing back, but then I guess I saw it more as an op­por­tu­nity,” he said. “I think I’ve come pretty far, in terms of be­ing ready to play ev­ery game.”

The moves Sonier makes – or doesn’t make – by to­day’s 1 p.m. dead­line will de­ter­mine if there’s a place for Fo­ley. If he is sent back, he’ll be a “first re­call player” should they need a body, the GM said.

“He plays on our fourth line, but he scored a big goal for us the other night and shows a lot of up­side. He’s got a re­lent­less work ethic. . . He’s go­ing to be an ev­ery­day ma­jor ju­nior player soon.”

FILE PHOTO

Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders winger Johnny Fo­ley, right, tries to get around Drummondville de­fence­man Fred­eric Aube.

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