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Islanders hard to beat when they score first

The Charlottetown Islanders practised Tuesday in preparation for their Quebec road trip.
The Charlottetown Islanders practised Tuesday in preparation for their Quebec road trip.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – When the Charlottetown Islanders score first, they always get a point.

The Islanders hold the best record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League under those circumstances, having gone 20-0-2-0 this season.

Head coach Jim Hulton said the team is fine-tuning its game with seven weeks left in the regular season after this weekend’s games.

“Starts are one of the areas we’ve been getting better at,” he said. “Our record is drastically different when we score first, so it’s all the more incentive to get out of the gate early.”

While there is a variety of factors that can lead to good starts, the coaching staff can normally tell if the team has jump and is mentally sharp early in a game. Starting specific lines can be used to try to provide some jump, but it’s not as much of a factor as it used to be.

“A long time ago, you’d start a bit of a robust, physical line to try and get the crowd into it and get your team into it,” Hulton explained. “We’re a little bit superstitious. If a line starts the night before and we win, we usually stick with it.”

The Islanders (26-16-3-0) host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (20-20-5-1) for a pair of weekend games. Game 1 goes tonday at 7 p.m. with the second contest Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Islanders will be without overage forward Pascal Aquin tonight as he serves the final game of his two-game suspension.

“It’s a hole in the lineup, but it’s an opportunity for somebody,” Hulton said. “He wasn't there in the Rimouski game (on Sunday), and I think it was the best game of our road trip.”

The Islanders have made some moves during the past month to try to boost the power play. It currently holds the worst percentage (13.8) in the league, and there has been some personnel change during last week’s road trip in Quebec.

“The looks have been getting somewhat better, but the production is not there,” Hulton said. “It can look as good as it wants and we can praise our efforts on it, but it has to start to produce.”

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