November 21, 2012

Juniors Journal: Doherty dominant for Islanders Hockey Club

By Shawn Hutcheon

Every hockey player at every level does his best to impress the coach. The bumps and bruises a player picks up along the way are all worth it when a coach says, “He’s having a great year for us. He’s a strong skater, has a good head for the game and will be an impact player at that next level. In fact he doesn’t just hate to lose a game; he hates to lose a shift.” 

Michael Doherty has 30 points through 17 games. (Photo: Islanders Hockey Club)

Those are the words Islanders Hockey Club head coach Sean Tremblay used recently to describe Islanders center Michael Doherty (Reading, Mass.)

Doherty has played in 17 Eastern Junior Hockey League games for IHC this season and has become the club’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 18 assists. He is third in league scoring and has registered points in all but three contests he has played in.

Doherty was a standout at Reading High School before transferring to Groton School, from which Tremblay recruited the 19-year-old forward. After talking to Tremblay, Doherty decided that his next stop on the hockey trail would be Tyngsboro, Massachusetts and a season with the Islanders.

Doherty knew the jump from prep school hockey to the junior level would not be easy.

“It’s always a big jump coming out of prep school,” Doherty explained. “I trained hard during the summer so I’d be ready for it (EJHL). The first couple of games, it was playing against teams with more depth and bigger, stronger players than I’m used to, but I’ve always been pretty confident. I’m playing with really good linemates, Chris Izmirlian and Connor MacPhee (Windham, N.H.). We have good chemistry together and that helped and we’ve been playing pretty well.

“You’ve got to come to play every night. Every team in the league is playing well right now. You’ve got to stay focused and be ready for every game.”

The first thing one notices about Doherty is how he uses his strong skating ability to get open for passes and also to create time and space for himself when he possesses the puck.

“I like to use my speed,” he said. “I think I’m a pretty good skater. I try to be poised with the puck. I like to get low (in the offensive zone) and make plays.”

Islanders assistant coach Paul Jenkins is very happy with how quickly Doherty adapted to the EJHL and the Islanders systems.

“He’s a phenomenal offensive talent,” Jenkins said. “After the first five games, he caught fire. He comes ready to practice and play every time he jumps over the boards. He’s an easy kid to coach. He’s extremely bright.”

Doherty has been able to use his on-ice abilities as well as his off ice intelligence to realize his dream of achieving a commitment to a Division 1 college. Next season, Doherty will don the uniform of the Yale University Bulldogs but he knows he still has things to work on before he steps on campus.

“Yale and myself would like it if I can get bigger, put on some weight and get stronger. I also need to pay attention to the small details such as protecting the puck. Those things will help me when I get to college.”

Jenkins sees a bright future for his forward.

“If he goes to Yale and continues to put in the work and gets bigger and stronger then he’ll be very successful. If he decides to play after he graduates, I have no doubt that he’ll be able to do that as well.”

Those are words every player wants to hear from his coach.

Game of the Week

With the Eastern Junior Hockey League on Thanksgiving break, college and National Hockey League scouts will focusing their attention on the Thanksgiving Atlantic Junior Hockey League Showcase. Eighteen league games will be played between Friday November 23rd to Sunday November 25th at the Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire.

The match that should attract the most attention will Sunday’s tilt between the New York Bobcats and the Walpole Express.

The Bobcats have been at, or near, the top of the standings since the first day of the season. After sweeping a two game series with the Boston Jr. Rangers the ‘Cats have returned to being the league’s number one club. Forward Patrick Schule has been an offensive force. His 30 points has him in second place in AJHL scoring while his 16 goals in first in the circuit. Four of Schule’s lamplighters have been game winners. In the crease, David Lynch has been rock solid winning 13 of 17 starts including one shutout. He also carries a goals against average of 2.79 and a save percentage of .903.  

The Express, defending AJHL champions got off to a slow start but are making the charge towards the league’s upper echelon. They are in fifth place in the standings but are only four points in arrears of the Bobcats. Heading into Sunday’s tilt with the Philadelphia Little Flyers, Walpole had won six of its previous ten games. David Goff’s 22 points is at the top of the Express stats sheet and has him seventh in league scoring. Forward Colin O’Neil (21 points) leads the AJHL with five game winning goals. In goal, Kyle Shapiro is third among league netminders with seven wins. His .1.90 goals against average and .939 save percentage are each third best in the circuit.  

The clubs have faced each once this season with Walpole emerging with a 4-0 victory.

Power Rankings

To read Shawn Hutcheon’s analysis of each team in the top 15, head over to our junior power rankings page.

1) Boston Junior Bruins (15-5-0-0-0) 
2) Valley Jr. Warriors (14-6-0-0-0) 
3) Islanders Hockey Club (12-5-0-0-1) 
4) Springfield Jr. Pics (12-8-0-0-0) 
5) Bay State Breakers (12-8-0-0-1)

6) Walpole Express (12-4-2-0)  
7) Northern Cyclones (12-5-0-1) 
8) South Shore Kings (10-8-0-3-0) 
9) Boston Jr. Rangers (9-3-6-1) 
10) Connecticut Wolfpack (9-3-2-1) 

11) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (10-7-0-0-1) 
12) Boston Bandits (9-12-0-0-0) 
13) Connecticut Oilers (5-10-0-2-0) 
14) Portland Jr. Pirates (5-15-0-1-0) 
15) Laconia Leafs (4-13-4-0)

Shawn Hutcheon can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.