The Cape Cod Islanders underwent sweeping changes this off season and it started with the man behind the bench. In late March a search was put out for the next head coach of the Islanders. Dan Hodge, who had coached and/or owned the team for past six seasons decided it was time to hand the reigns over to a new coach in order to inject some fresh blood into the organization. After a long and exhaustive search, Hodge decided to hire Jay Punsky to be the team's new head coach. "I spoke to Jay early on in the process and knew he was the right guy for the job." Hodge said "I interviewed a few other candidates but things always came back to Jay. I am proud that he is my coach and I know the future of the Islanders is bright under him."
Punsky's first order of business was to start recruiting basically a whole new team. Gone were veteran players like Chris Harris, Christian Holmes, Patrick Spaulding, Mack O'Shea and JS Dufort. "In junior hockey there is always lots of turnover." Punsky said "We basically had to go out and recruit a whole new team. It says a lot for a team, like ours, where you have so many guys come back year after year."
The Islanders have been able to fill a lot of the gaps left form last season with new players and the return of a few familiar faces. Returning for the 15-16 season are forwards James Brosnan and Barnstable native Frank Oakley. Perhaps the biggest off season resigning was defenseman Eric Szeker. Szeker was recently named captain of the Islanders for this season. "We are lucky to have a veteran like Eric on our blue line, his experience and poise is amazing to watch on a daily basis." Punsky continues "He is a leader both on and off the ice and we couldn't be happier to have him wearing the C this season."
Besides the returnees, coach Punsky did an incredible job recruitng and building his team. He has added offensive players like Falmouth's Mike Jessman, Karl Eric Demers, Steve <athews, Dan Demarco, Dan Moore and Chuck Costello. Dylan Legarie, Aaron Deady and newcomer Maxime Dordet add play making ability and a work ethic that will keep opponents on their toes. Chris O'Donnell, Brendan Sullivan and Mitch Eldridge will add speed and grit to any line they are with. On the blueline he has added Falmouth's Tom and Cam Tobey, Zack Goodman, Bourne's Jake Davis, Joe Brennan and Kevin Audette.
In goal, Anton Zemba, Jonathan Stone and Clayton Pierce combine to make up the best trio in Islanders history.
The Islanders are looking forward to the new season and the puck drops tomorrow night in Canton where they face off against the Northeast Generals at 8:10 pm. The two teams will square off in Falmouth on Sunday at 4:30 pm both games will be brosdcast on the Fasthockey network.