Ethan Crossman has been traded five times in his five-year Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career.
It has taken him from Moncton to Quebec to Acadie-Bathurst to Baie-Comeau to Chicoutimi and finally to Charlottetown.
But the last move feels different.
The 20-year-old Sackville, N.B., native was traded by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens to the Charlottetown Islanders on Dec. 15 for a pair of draft picks. Crossman has spent the past five summers working in Charlottetown at Andrews Hockey Growth Programs, where he worked with Islanders captain Brendon Clavelle and Islanders goalie coach Paul Drew. He knew Islanders winger Thomas Casey from their time together at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask.
“It feels almost like I am coming back home,” Crossman said before Friday’s practice.
“It’s been awesome,” he said of the smooth transition. “Everyone here makes it feel like home.”
It is evident to head coach Jim Hulton.
“He fit right in quickly. That’s important,” Hulton said. “Most times it takes a couple of weeks for people to fit in and it felt like a couple of days and he was part of the group.”
Crossman said he wants to win every game and go as far as the team can in playoffs but knows the significance of not looking too far ahead.
“I think it’s important we stay in the present and take it one game at a time,” he said. “I think we can really do some damage.”
Crossman won a Memorial Cup with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 2018 and that experience will be counted on tonight when the Islanders host Crossman’s former team, the Sagueneens.
“I am looking forward to it,” Crossman said. “It’s a great group of guys, so it’s going to be a big game for us and a big game for them. We’re going to have to get after them early.”
Eastern Conference-leading Chicoutimi (27-7-4-0 before Friday’s game in Halifax) loaded up at the deadline with the additions of forwards Raphael Lavoie, Dawson Mercer, Felix Bibeau, plus defencemen Karl Boudrias and Patrick Kyte, amongst others. Mercer will not be in the lineup this weekend after coming back from the Czech Republic with a gold medal from the world junior tournament. He is also heading to the CHL Top Prospects Game next week.
The Sagueneens have a roster full of highly skilled players.
“We’re going to have to pin them in their own zone because they’re quite capable offensively,” Crossman said.
Hulton said the Islanders are at its best when they establish their forecheck early.
“That’s going to be key if we can get to them before they get revved up and started.”
Hulton said they will be relying on their veterans, including goalie Matthew Welsh, to lead the way.
“Nights like tomorrow night were the reasons we went and got Ethan,” he said. “He’s got the experience to perform against good teams and extra incentive with it being his old team.”
Crossman played his minor hockey in Sackville before heading to Moncton for peewee AAA and bantam AAA. He went to Notre Dame for midget and was drafted in the third round of 2015 draft.
He described himself as a player who brings energy to his squad, finishes his hits and likes to produce offence for his team.
Need to know
Who – A 20-year-old forward with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Height, weight – Five-foot-11, 188 pounds.
“He’s got a little bit of a swagger about him that you hope your 20-year-olds, especially a guy who has won, have. I think it’s infectious and kind of wears off in the room. . . He believes in himself, he believes he’s going to win every night and that’s what our group has to take on.”
Head coach Jim Hulton
Season GP G A Pts.
2015-16 37 0 2 2
2016-17 24 1 1 2
2017-18 66 21 23 44
2018-19 51 19 18 37
2019-20 36 7 11 18