Samson McLean leads the Isles out of their own end during Sunday’s exhibition game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Samson McLean leads the Isles out of their own end during Sunday’s exhibition game against the Nanaimo Buccaneers. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Isles’ exhibition opener goes as expected

More veterans in lineup going forward

The Kerry Park Islanders’ first preseason game of 2017 was pretty much what the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team’s brain trust anticipated.

“We didn’t expect to win, but we didn’t want to get blown out either,” Islanders owner Mark Osmond said of the 6-3 loss to the Nanaimo Buccaneers at Kerry Park Arena on Sunday afternoon. “We were happy with the effort.”

The Isles had a number of bubble players and midget prospects in the lineup, while the Bucs went largely with the roster Osmond expects them to carry into the regular season.

“We were in the game most of the way,” Osmond said. “The Nanaimo team is pretty much set, except for about four players. We had only six of our returning players in the lineup.”

It was obvious at times that it was the first game of the year, as players weren’t necessarily in mid-season form, and occasionally took longer shifts than necessary.

“We were pretty pleased,” Osmond said. “I think fitness is something all the teams have to work on at this time of year. All-in-all, I thought for the team we put out there, we were happy with the effort, for sure.”

The Isles got two players, defenceman Tory McClintick and forward Kyle Peck, back from the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ camp prior to Sunday’s game. Another forward, Brandon McClintick, was released from the Caps camp, but is attending the major junior Victoria Royals’ camp before he rejoins the Isles.

Forward Keenan Eddy was still in camp with the Caps as of Monday, and Osmond doesn’t expect to get him back. Eddy played junior A hockey in Ontario last season after two seasons with the Isles, and returned to Vancouver Island with the specific goal of making the Capitals’ roster.

“I brought Keenan back here so he could play for the Caps,” Osmond said.

Another player Osmond thought was locked up with Kerry Park for 2017-18, Braydon Nelson, who signed with the Isles after playing for the Alberni Valley Royals last season, wants to go back to junior A after all, and it remains to be seen at this point where he will end up.

The Isles visited the Victoria Cougars on Tuesday and will head to Nanaimo on Thursday for a rematch with the Buccaneers.

kevin.rothbauer@cowichanvalleycitizen.com