Prior to being called the Islanders, the Cape Cod team was founded as the “Cape Cod Cubs” in 2008 as part of the International Junior Hockey League. The Cubs won back to back titles in their first two seasons in the IJHL, and was renamed the Islanders in 2011. The Islanders helped found the Northern States Hockey League in 2012, and it became the second hockey league sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The NSHL left the AAU in 2014 and became the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL), managed by the NAHL. The Islanders then joined the NA3HL in 2016, when it absorbed the NA3EHL.
The Cape Cod Islanders finished the regular season last year in 3rd place in the division, losing in the semi-finals to the New England Stars, 2-1, including an OT victory on home ice.
Joining the team this year is Falmouth, MA native Barry O’Neil. Although he was not with the team last year, he is proud of their work both on and off the ice, and plans on focusing on the smaller aspects of the game to improve his team.
“We sent nine kids to the NCAA. I think that’s a pretty good success in my eyes,” said O’Neil, reinforcing the idea that advancing players to the college and upper level leagues is a major goal of both the NA3HL and the Cape Cod Islanders coaching staff.
Joe Brennan (Framingham State), James Brosnan (East Texas Baptist University), Chris Conlin (King’s College), Chuck Costello, Aaron Deady, Dan Moore (Becker College), Cam Tobey, Thomas Tobey (Westfield State), and Anton Zemba (Lawrence University), all graduated from the Cape Cod Islanders to college programs in 2017.
This season, Coach O’Neil is looking to dive head first into molding his players – both as athletes and individuals.
“[Coaching] is an on and off the ice job. Helping them out whenever they need and teach them the skills to get to the next level. Off the ice, [I will] hammer away with the upper level and college coaches, just trying to get them to the next level.”
“This year, we’re going to emphasize getting out of your comfort zone and playing at a high tempo,” said Coach O’Neil. The Islanders proved they were a worthy opponent after finishing 3rd in their division, and O’Neil hopes that little tweaks can help them go the distance.
“Right now, were looking for kids that are forcing pucks, doing the little things right – finishing checks, playing hard to the whistle.”
O’Neil is also looking forward to the NA3HL Showcase and Top Prospects Tournament –as a team bonding event in addition to player exposure.
“I think [the tournaments] are a great opportunity for the kids to go on a little trip with their teammates and get seen by some high level teams.”
Further, these league wide events give other coaches the chance to see how other teams and coaches work.
“It’s good for the coaches to see how other teams play and see what they do.”
Coach O’Neil is happy with the community support the Islanders have received in the past three years, but he hopes his local roots will help him draw more attention.
“I hope being a local coach I can draw a little bit more community support, and we can grow from there.”
The Islanders open their season with a home game against the Northeast Generals on September 10th.