Islanders can surprise all comers

For over two seasons the Cayman
Destination Management Services roller hockey team were an after-thought.

CDMS was near the bottom of the
standings consistently and didn’t have the ability to scare teams or sneak out

This season it has all changed for
the Islanders. Coming into Tuesday’s week eight matches CDMS finds itself in
third place at 4-4 and a game behind the MEPCO High Rollers for an unprecedented
second place spot. 

Many team members are pleased with
the turnaround including stalwart Dave Champoux. A defenseman for three seasons
on the team, the Canadian national says winning is a welcome situation.

“A lot of players are pleased with
the direction and momentum we have going into the playoffs,” Champoux said.
“It’s rewarding for me personally. The teams in the past have struggled and
it’s just gratifying to field a competitive team for once.”

CDMS just missed out on nabbing
second place last week as the top-ranked Budget Beavers beat the Islanders
11-5. Budget captain Mark Missal led the way with five goals and an assist
while star player Tim MacDonald had a team-high three assists to go with three

The Islanders countered with two
goals from Ben Rivard and two goals and an assist from Pete Holowchuk. For
Champoux (who has two assists and a goal so far) the loss was tough as he felt
the Islanders had better control of the puck.

“We out-shot them and played tough
and we did have a couple of players out with injury,” Champoux said. “Their
goalie Ryan (Vanderwal) simply stole the game from us. We got a lot of shots in
on net and all the pressure was on him.

“They have many good shooters and a
lot of good passers. Our goalie Nigel (Windsor)
struggles against their shooters but we skate just as well as them. I’m happy
we’re able to compete with them.”

At least CDMS’ second place hopes
were helped on the night as the last place Barracudas won their first game of
the season by taking down MEPCO 6-4. The difference maker in that game was
Barracudas goalie Jeremy Olynik who made 32 saves.

On paper the reason for the
Islanders’ success rests in defense. Coming into Tuesday CDMS had allowed the
fewest goals on the season (25).

However Champoux, 45, feels the key
to the CDMS turnaround is on offense where some new players have made a big
impact right away.

“Our defensemen have played well. I
won’t count myself in that group as my legs can’t exactly keep up with the
younger guys. Remember I have about 10 years on most guys. I see myself as both
a cagy veteran and an elder statesman on CDMS.

“Our team is excited about its
chances in the playoffs, especially with all the new additions on the roster.
The line-up is stronger than we have ever had. Take Ben Rivard for example.

“He has teamed up with Pete and we
feel they are the top forward line in the league. They are unstoppable,
generating all the goals and playing well. They remind me of the Sedin twins
for Vancouver.

“Nigel Windsor has improved this
year after being a rookie last year and Jean Louis Beaudet is a rising star.
“Louie,” as we call him, is only 14 and he is a prodigy like Sidney Crosby.
He’s coming on strong right now and in a couple years he’ll be a star.”

Windsor agrees with
Champoux, adding that Brendon Malice deserves props in defense.

“It’s absolutely true we’re
excelling with the new guys,” Windsor
said. “Ben is an outstanding player and he and Pete are on the same wavelength.
Louie is also showing a good game now.

“Then there is Brendon Malice who is
a really good defender and is quite solid this year.”

The Scotsman, who has been with
CDMS for three seasons, has an interesting journey to crouching in front of
net. As he states it took a lot of willpower.

“I was originally a defenseman and I
became the goalie because the team asked me to fill in for them,” Windsor said. “I said
sure I’d give it a go but don’t expect nothing from me. I enjoy it because it’s
a whole new thing. It’s a lot to learn and it goes beyond just stopping shots
between the pipes.

“To learn the position I read a
book and checked out tons of videos. I’m still doing those things now because
you only get out of something what you put into it. In my mind I don’t have a
set style. I get beaten a lot up top though I’m confident with butterfly saves
and shots down low.

“You have to pay attention the
whole time and you don’t get a break. A lot of it is mental rather than
physical. If you don’t pay attention you could be caught out of position and
then you’re toast.”

Both Windsor and Champoux feel the
team can excel in the playoffs.

“Everyone feeds off of the new
guys,” Windsor
said. “If we play well then we have a chance of winning the Cherry Cup.”

“We’re eyeing MEPCO as a first
round opponent,” Champoux said. “We have no fear of facing Budget in the finals.”