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Old 06-19-2020, 04:33 PM   #1
neilhoskins77
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The Islanders of the North

4th August 2019
It’s my first day as an ice hockey Head Coach, and I have three offers on the table. One is my nearest and dearest team, the Cardiff Devils of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK. It would have been the logical choice. But this isn’t about logic, this is about a bit of a challenge.

Offer two was from a Czech team, SK Trhači Kadañ, who play in the second tier Chance Liga. Now that would have been a challenge. Maybe too much of a challenge for a rookie Head Coach straight out of the UK though?

Finally, offer number three. The one that intrigued me the most. Formerly known as the Prince Edward Island Rockets, they rebranded as the Charlottetown Islanders in 2013, playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), out of the Eastlink Centre in the largest city on PEI. This is the franchise that spawned Dion Phaneuf, Maxim Lapierre and Adam McQuaid as their most famous alumni. But this is a franchise that has never won a Championship. It wants to win one quickly, and they want me to lead them to that maiden Title. I accept, despite their ridiculous offer of $2,000 annual salary.

5th August 2019
Day one, and I meet the owner, one Mr Serge Savard. He tells me the target for the forthcoming 2019/20 season is to reach the Playoffs in the QMJHL. The team budget is $74,500, and we have a current payroll of $65,995. He strongly suggests I get to know the club, particularly my roster and chart. Clearly I’ve upset the guy, he seems keen to ruin my day.

We need some help in the Goalie, Defencemen, and Right Wing positions, probably in that order, which shows you how bad the situation is when we only have two dedicated RW’s on the roster. I’ve told him that I’m quite some kind of ‘wheeler dealer’. Turns out I’ll have to be.

11th August 2019
A new starting netminder was a real must for us. We were not well equipped in that department, and I spent several days looking for a club who would be suitable trade partners. I found exactly what I was looking for at the Saint John Sea Dogs. They had five netminders, four of which were better than what we had. Their top man is Swiss, and classed as a foreigner. With only two permitted per roster, and us already at the limit, I made my move for their older, but just as capable back-up, who would comfortably be our number one. I made my move, and went in aggressively, offering them a depth C from our roster who would fit the second line space on their weak looking depth chart. Turns out they rated 18 year old Zachary Beauregard, but not quite enough to accept my offer to send him over in return for goalie Zachary Bouthillier and a First Round pick for 2020. I dropped my request for a pick down to a 2nd Round selection, and their need to enhance their forward corps tempted them, done deal. A very nice upgrade between the pipes, he went at #23 in the 2015 QMJHL Draft, and last summer he was selected as a 7th round outsider by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the ‘18 version of the NHL Draft.

14th August 2019
Quickly, I had earned the tag as the League’s new boy who was willing to talk trades and thrash out a deal. That made me as popular as the kid who got sent to school with freshly baked cupcakes. Drummondville Voltigeurs wanted some of the cake!

The object of their attention was our 16 year old D’man rookie William Trudeau. He is labelled as an Offensive Defenceman, but the most offensive thing about this #194 selection in last years QMJHL Draft was his haircut. They offered me a Third Rounder in the next Draft, a pretty square deal. But square deal’s won’t make us better, and my D is lopsided to the left. So I asked for, and received 18 year right sided Antoine Palardy too. He’s yet to play at this level since being drafted in 2015 and only ten places higher than Trudeau. But he has better size and shot, and I might yet find use for the kid.
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Old 06-20-2020, 07:21 AM   #2
neilhoskins77
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Apologies, rude of me to just rock up on the boards and launch into a story without bothering to introduce myself. Allow me to correct that.

My name is Neil, and I'm a 42 year old native of South Wales in the UK, around 20 miles outside the Capital City of Cardiff, with the English border around 20 miles the other way. I've been an ice hockey fan since the late 90's, when a friend convinced me to go to watch a game at our nearest club, the Cardiff Devils, and I've been hooked pretty much ever since. I quickly became an NHL fan, keeping the Devils theme and selecting New Jersey as my team of choice......a decision that served me well in those early seasons as a fan.....and a lot less so in recent years.

Poor health over recent years has led me to search for time fillers, and a huge amount has been taken up blogging my stories in the storied Football Manager series of games, and now I'm going to try to hand at doing something similar here using FHM6.

This might be a slow burner, I have a playing style that is slow and detailed, and my stories tend to follow the same theme. But I hope you enjoy following along, and please feel free to interact with your thoughts, questions and horror as I potentially make a mess of this club while learning the QMJHL rules as I go along.
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Old 06-27-2020, 02:20 PM   #3
reverist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilhoskins77 View Post
Apologies, rude of me to just rock up on the boards and launch into a story without bothering to introduce myself. Allow me to correct that.

My name is Neil, and I'm a 42 year old native of South Wales in the UK, around 20 miles outside the Capital City of Cardiff, with the English border around 20 miles the other way. I've been an ice hockey fan since the late 90's, when a friend convinced me to go to watch a game at our nearest club, the Cardiff Devils, and I've been hooked pretty much ever since. I quickly became an NHL fan, keeping the Devils theme and selecting New Jersey as my team of choice......a decision that served me well in those early seasons as a fan.....and a lot less so in recent years.

Poor health over recent years has led me to search for time fillers, and a huge amount has been taken up blogging my stories in the storied Football Manager series of games, and now I'm going to try to hand at doing something similar here using FHM6.

This might be a slow burner, I have a playing style that is slow and detailed, and my stories tend to follow the same theme. But I hope you enjoy following along, and please feel free to interact with your thoughts, questions and horror as I potentially make a mess of this club while learning the QMJHL rules as I go along.
Welcome! It's been since about 2016 or so that I was in Cardiff; tell me, is the Pie Minister still there? A great place to eat!
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:45 PM   #4
neilhoskins77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reverist View Post
Welcome! It's been since about 2016 or so that I was in Cardiff; tell me, is the Pie Minister still there? A great place to eat!
It sure is! I haven't been myself, as I'm about 25 miles outside Cardiff myself, and don't go into the City very often. But I've certainly heard that it's worth a visit.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:26 AM   #5
neilhoskins77
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4th September 2019
Last week I received an encouraging report about the development of some of the prospects and players we hold the rights for. Truth be told, we could use a few of them now. But getting a report on our current roster made me feel a bit better about what we have now. Apart from trying to push some square pegs into round holes here and there, we look okay right now. We’ll find out more tomorrow, when we got into our pre-season opener in our home barn, the Eastlink Centre, against Victoriaville Tigres. It’s the first of seven pre-season tilts.

5th September 2019
New goaltender Zachary Bouthillier gets a first chance to prove his worth after his trade to us, in front of just over 2,000 fans. It started so well too, Patrick LeBlanc put us in front with three minutes to play in the first on the Powerplay, and he then picked up a secondary assist as Cole Edwards doubled our lead with 21 seconds to play in the opening period.

Tigres came out firing for the second, pulling one back less than 30 seconds into a Brett Budgell minor penalty. But our heads stayed up, and LeBlanc scored once more on the PP midway through the period. We were being undisciplined though, and Sean Larochelle scored on the man advantage, before adding another two minutes later in 5 on 5 play, and the score was knotted at 3 after two.

The third period was a tight one, with both sides closing things up, while still taking minors. And neither our PP or Penalty Kill got the job done. Tigres found the winner with just under 90 seconds played on Zac Arsenault’s minor for delay of game, Mikhail Abramov finding the net with 17:12 of the period played, Larochelle picking up a third point of the game on the game winning goal.

So, the Powerplay was hot, the Penalty Kill not so much. Bouthillier saved 28 of 32 fired at him, Michael Welsh will get his go tomorrow night. Plenty of positives though, we out-shot and out-hit our visitors. We also beat them on giveaways and takeaways, and dominated proceedings in the face-off circles.

Pre-Season Record :- 0-1-0

6th September 2019
3,480 were at the Harbour Station Arena in Saint John, New Brunswick the following night as we continue our pre-season schedule with an opening road game, and a first chance to assert ourselves against a Divisional rival from the six team Maritimes Division of the Eastern Conference of the QMJHL. And asserting ourselves will be important, as we take on the Sea Dogs in four of our seven warm-up games. We go with the same lines as last night, and with Welsh between the pipes.

Mark this as an ‘F’......for frustrating! Don’t look at the box score, and we did everything right for the opening half hour, dominating the game in pretty much every aspect you care to mention, particularly in the first period. Indiscipline continued to raise its head in the 2nd, and we had to kill off almost a full two minutes of 5-on-3 Powerplay for the Sea Dogs. But with just under six minutes left in the middle session, Maxim Čajkovič ripped home a shot with the extra man after Cédric Desruisseaux took a hooking penalty. That was only the sixth shot on goal they had registered at Welsh, while we up in the mid 20’s.

Thankfully, we finally found someone who could pick out the net in the 3rd. It was right wing Kevin Gursoy who stepped up, after I had switched the C’s around on the top line. He scored just over two minutes in, and then with five to play in the game, netted on the PP, with Desruisseaux assisting on both markers after moving up to the top unit. We wouldn’t manage to hold on though, Benjamin Badalamenti scoring with 71 seconds remaining on the clock and before they had managed to pull Stewart Bagnall for the extra skater. I’m happy to report we would pick the ‘W’ though. When OT didn’t provide a result, the shootout would, and comprehensively. Josh Lawrence missed, and our other top six C took his chance to shine, Russian/German newly drafted St Louis Blues prospect Nikita Alexandrov, the son of DEL stalwart Igor, found a way through, and when Badalamenti missed, D’man Zac Arsenault finished the job, and we have our first win on the board.

Pre-Season Record :- 1-1-0

7th September 2019
It’s a day off before we’re back in action tomorrow for the first of a double header of home games, before we take on Saint John three times in a four day spell. We out-shot them 42-21 last night, yet still needed overtime and a shootout to get the job done.

I’m acutely aware that we’ve only had two games together, and that there is still plenty of time to build line chemistry and discover better combinations and match-ups. I’m also very aware that I have an owner expecting big things, and I need some sniping skills further up our lineup. Two trade offers are sent out, for two of the best in the League. There are risks attached to such a move, not least that I’d be ramping up the pressure and expectations on myself and the team if I pull the deals off. Also to be considered, I could be moving out a lot of pieces to receive back something that I might only get for a year if they were to be drafted high in the NHL Entry Draft, and given a shot at the Big League.

Last edited by neilhoskins77; 09-02-2020 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 09-03-2020, 11:08 AM   #6
vtmx
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Originally Posted by neilhoskins77 View Post
Offer two was from a Czech team, SK Trhači Kadañ, who play in the second tier Chance Liga. Now that would have been a challenge. Maybe too much of a challenge for a rookie Head Coach straight out of the UK though?
Be glad you didn't accept this offer, since the club is just a farm team to two first tier clubs and 95% of your roster will be made up young guys from those teams. It's not fun at all.
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Old 12-31-2020, 08:09 AM   #7
neilhoskins77
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Originally Posted by vtmx View Post
Be glad you didn't accept this offer, since the club is just a farm team to two first tier clubs and 95% of your roster will be made up young guys from those teams. It's not fun at all.
Yeah, I did a little research into that and discovered it was essentially just a farm team. It wasn't difficult to say no to that one ha
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Old 01-19-2021, 06:13 PM   #8
neilhoskins77
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Sunday 8th September 2019
Today we're away from home again, headed into Nova Scotia to face the Cape Breton Eagles at the 200 Centre in Sydney, another of our Divisional rivals. After claiming the win last time out in New Brunswick, we stick with Michael Welsh in goal. An early powerplay opportunity didn't find a breakthrough, but six shots in that two minutes spell had me hopeful for what was to come. Unfortunately, what was to come was us conceding twice in three minutes late in the period, as despite being well behind on the shot count, Jérémy Langlois netted with a tip, before Ivan Ivan scored on the man advantage with only seconds remaining on Brendon Clavelle's tripping minor. Thirty seconds later we had found a way through, Patrick LeBlanc scored his third goal of the pre-season in the final minute of the opening period.

I was confident we would sort out this wrong in the second period, but Jarrett Baker scored his first goal of the pre season with nearly three minutes played of the second period. Cédric Desruisseaux quickly got us back to within one, but when David Doucet scored just after the midway point, I'd had enough, and pulled Welsh out of the game and replaced him with Zachary Bouthillier, with Welsh conceding four goals on 24 shots for an 83.3% save percentage, which is never going to cut it. Bouthillier steadied the ship, and the scoreboard for the remainder of the 2nd, and we would go into the third two goals down.

After a heavy shot advantage earlier in the game, the count was now level, but we were hitting our stride. With a bit of confidence in the goalie behind them, the D started to make their impact up the ice. Xavier Bernard picked up a secondary assist on a Kevin Gursoy goal just eleven seconds into the final period, and then on the powerplay, Oscar Plandowski matched him when Nikita Alexandrov netted his first of the exhibitions with 12:59 remaining on the clock. With just under four minutes to go, Desruisseaux found the net again, and I was planning who would be on the ice when we were finishing them off with an empty netter. Prematurely as it turned out, as Drew Johnston took a tripping penalty less than 20 seconds later, and with under ten seconds of it run down, Brooklyn Kalmikov fired home from the point to even things up at five. Overtime beckoned, and we would manage only one shot in the extra five minute session, despite having a powerplay chance for the last eighty seconds of it. Into a shootout for the second successive game, Bouthillier stoning Derek Gentile, while Brett Budgell produced a move to score. Mathias Laferrière and Thomas Casey swapped markers, and when Bouthillier made another stop, this time from Shaun Miller, we had a second successive shootout success, this one recorded as a 6-5 win!

Pre-Season Record :- 2-1-0

Another road win makes me a very happy Coach. But my attempt to improve our sniper options with a frankly cheap and maybe even derisory trade offer to Rimouski Océanic was not surprisingly rejected out of hand. I go back to the table, though it's more in abject hope than any kind of expectation. We are absolutely trying to rob them to be honest, this is an improved offer though. The aim here is really just to get them to the table to establish how much it's going to cost us. An offer has also been made to Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, a much more square deal that will address their need for a left winger, and provide us with a good young right wing that we can push right into our lineup if they see the deal the way we do.

Monday 9th September 2019
Tonight we play our final pre-season game. Or at least, our final pre-season game that isn't against Saint John Sea Dogs, who we'll face off with three times in four nights later this week. We're back at the Eastlink Centre, with the visitors the Western Conference side, Gatineau Olympiques. We have some new line combinations for this one to try and work out some kinks, and Zachary Bouthillier is back starting in the nets.

None of that looked too clever when we went behind with only nine seconds on the clock, Matthew Grouchy netting the rebound after Yevgeni Kashnikov's shot was kicked aside. Things looked like going downhill further when Pat LeBlanc took a trip to the box for interference, but with that minor due to expire, Noah Laaouan connected with a shorthanded shot to bring us level, the D'man's first goal of the pre-season. But Xavier Bernard took a tripping penalty midway through the stanza, and Grouchy scored again, with Métis Roelens netting four minutes later at even strength to leave us 3-1 down after one period, with both sides on 12 shots, and Bouthillier looking a bit shaky.

The second period showed a huge improvement for both goalie and skaters though. Bouthillier stopped all seven shots on net in the middle period, as both teams constantly ruined their own powerplay chances by taking penalties of their own quickly. 5 on 5, we were doing nicely, and Cole Edwards netted from Cédric Desruisseaux with his second helper of the night, and Nikita Alexandrov with his fourth of the pre-season. When Mathieu Bizier took a tripping minor late on in the period, we finally hit the PP bullseye, Brendon Clavelle making the most of his promotion to the special teams unit, with LeBlanc picking up a fifth assist of the exhibition games. 3-3 going into the third period.

We'd outshot Gatineau during that middle period, but it was too much to ask for that it would last. Kashnikov found the net himself eight minutes into the third, only to see Edwards net a second of the night to level the game again, Desruisseaux claiming another assist to make it a three point night. Alexandre Pellerin scored with Grouchy claiming one of the assists to join Cédric on a three point night with eight minutes remaining on the clock. With a minute left on the clock, we managed to get Bouthillier off the ice and pin Gatineau into their zone. Now we just needed the chance to fall, and it did. Unfortunately, it would fall for D'man Zac Arsenault, who sent it through the crowd and wide, and we have to take a 5-4 defeat. On the plus side, we were dominant in the face off circle, and we showed some improved intensity to outhit the visitors.

Pre-Season Record :- 2-2-0
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