Top News

Islanders not panicking


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The good news is the Charlottetown Islanders is one of the best defensive teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The bad news is its offence has been anemic through the first five games.

Charlottetown (1-4-0-0) has been outscored 12-6 and it has the Islanders looking up the standings at most of the league’s teams.

It hasn’t hurt the Isles mood.

“Obviously, the 1-4 start is not ideal, but we’ve been playing good hockey,” veteran Will Bower said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re not discouraged or anything with our start. We know we’re a good team and we play good hockey. . .

“We just have to get our offence going a little bit.”

The Islanders will try to do just that tonight when the Saint John Sea Dogs (2-3-1-0) come to Eastlink Centre for a 7 p.m. game.

The Isles defeated the Sea Dogs 2-1 in overtime for the lone win of the season on Sept. 28. Charlottetown has only scored two goals in a game twice this season while tallying a goal in two more games and being shutout once.

“Right now we’re not getting the bounces, but if we keep playing this way, it’s going to turn around soon,” Bower said. “Those pucks we're missing will start going in (and) it’ll be fun when it does.”

The Islanders led the league in goals a year ago with 303 (averaging 4.46 goals a game) but saw a lot of high-end skill leave junior hockey.

The team knew patience would be key to start the season, but it has also been dealt adversity with overage forward Pascal Aquin serving an eight-game suspension to start the year and 19-year-old centre Gregor MacLeod sustaining a knee injury on opening night.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Aquin will serve the final game of his suspension this week, and MacLeod is back skating.

“I think we knew all along we were going to have to be earmarked by grit, tenacity, great goaltending and solid defence,” head coach Jim Hulton said. “We’ve had all of those. It hasn't resulted in wins yet, but it will.”

He called the squad one of the better defensive teams he has had.

“The puck hasn't gone in the net, but our structure, our effort, our commitment level has been extremely high,” Hulton said.

“You have to stay the course and not get irrational.”

He said he spoke with key veterans Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Keith Getson and Matthew Welsh during the weekend and liked what he saw.

“There’s no sense of panic in those guys,” he said.

The Islanders and Sea Dogs had some memorable battles last season and while many of those players are gone, Bowers expects the game to be intense.

“Saint John is one of our biggest rivals, carrying over from last year, so anytime you can beat them is a good feeling,” the Saint John, N.B., native said. “You always love beating your hometown team when you’re not playing for them, so those are always games I can get up for easily.”

Game day

A look at tonight’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game:

Who – The Charlottetown Islanders host the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Where – Eastlink Centre.

When – 7 p.m.

Leading scorers

Saint John

                                  GP       G          A        Pts.

Daniel Hardie           6          3          5          8

Ostap Safin               6          1          4          5

Joe Veleno                6          1          3          4

Charlottetown

Adam Marsh             5          1          2          3

Saku Vesterinen       5          1          2          3

Taylor Egan               5          1          1          2

Top goalies

Saint John

Alex D’Orio, 1.98 goals-against averages in five games.

Charlottetown

Dakota Lund-Cornish makes his major junior debut tonight.

Need to know – Before Thursday’s games, Charlottetown had the league’s worse power play (8.7 per cent) while its penalty kill was the best (94.4 per cent)

Local Sea Dog connections – Bailey Webster is playing his final junior season. The six-foot-four defenceman from Kelvin Grove began his junior career by playing seven games with Saint John in 2013-14. Goalie Matt Williams played two seasons with the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals.

Latest News