Two Charlottetown Islanders enjoying success at different points in junior career

 

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The Charlottetown Islanders salute more than 2,000 people at the Eastlink Centre after a 6-0 win against the Halifax Moosehead. Darcy Cudmore photo

By Darcy Cudmore

Jan. 21, 2016

Oliver Cooper and Mitchell Balmas are coming off a successful three-game weekend with the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL.

Cooper had four goals and two assists in three games, while Balmas had two goals and one assist as the team got four of a possible six points, bumping them up the standings two places.

The two are key pieces in the team’s offence this season as they prepare for a big second half of the season.

The first half of the season was disappointing, especially since the team was so highly ranked leading up to the first game of the season.

At the Christmas break, General Manager Grant Sonier made some trades to help, and with the return of Daniel Sprong, the team returned from Christmas break with a fresh start in mind.

The first game back looked promising.

The Islanders beat the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-1. Cooper had one goal and Balmas had one assist.

The Isles went two and four over the next six games leading up to last weekend.

Cooper and Balmas, who both have similar roles on the ice, are at completely different points in their hockey careers.

Cooper is a 20-year-old in his final season of junior hockey.

He is looked at to lead both on and off the ice and hopes to play well enough to further his hockey career past junior.

In the final stages of a successful junior career, Cooper says he’s unfamiliar with this recent streak of goals.

“Hopefully they keep coming but for me it’s my linemates. They’ve been doing a really good job of finding me and I guess I’ve just been lucky to be in the right spot at the right time.”

Balmas is just 17.

He has had the opportunity of playing on the same line as NHL prospects Daniel Sprong and Filip Chlapik as of late. They are also coming to the end of their junior careers and could be just what a young player like Balmas needs.

“They’re two guys drafted in the second round to the NHL and Daniel cracks the NHL line-up. Just goes to show what those two guys can bring to the line up every night.”

They may be at different points in their career with different individual goals, but both Cooper and Balmas have one goal as a team.

“We’re a pretty tight knit group in there. We’re a band of brothers,” said Cooper.

Balmas is confident in the team moving forward, after last weekend’s results.

“We had three really good games this weekend so we’re all pretty happy and now want to show the league what we can do in this second half.”

 

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