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Return to sender?


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

Since being called up from the Truro Bearcats last month, Johnny Foley has made quite an impact with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 17-year-old now sits on the cusp of staying with the team for the remainder of the season, or returning to Truro.

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 star player Daniel Sprong returning from the National Hockey League, Filip Chlapik heading to the World Junior Hockey Championship, and several trades taking place prior to tomorrow’s trade deadline. The plan was for Foley to be a fixed 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.”

Against improbable odds, the 17-year-old Hammonds Plains 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 Wednesday’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.”

 

 

 

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