CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders are going into the playoffs on a winning note.
Pascal Aquin, in his final major junior regular season game, had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over the Moncton Wildcats. Derek Gentile and Hunter Drew each had a goal and an assist while overage forward Cam Askew scored his 100th career goal Saturday at the Eastlink Centre. Keith Getson had two assists while Taylor Egan, Sullivan Sparkes and overage defenceman Olivier Desjardins each had an assist.
“I'm so proud of this team right now,” Aquin said after the game, noting the low expectations for the team by pundits heading into the season. “Nobody thought we'd . . . finish the season with 37 wins.”
Head coach Jim Hulton said it was great to see all three overage players hit the scoresheet in the finale.
“It was the perfect script. Three guys that mean so much to this team,” he said. “It’s a special night for all three of them.”
Hulton said Askew is hitting his stride, Aquin has been a big part of the team the past two seasons and Desjardins has been as steady as they come since arriving in a trade with Moncton in the fall.
“Desj is the guy that has been probably been the silent assassin of our season," Hulton said, referring to the team's record since he arrived.
Aquin said he thought back to his 2014-15 season in Shawinigan where the three overagers were goalie Marvin Cupper, left-winger Olivier Caouette and defenceman Sebastien Gauthier. Gauthier was later traded to Chicoutimi and right-winger Christophe Lalonde acquired from Moncton.
“I remember my first year as a 17 and I was seeing all the 20-year-olds getting their jersey for the last game. I was like, ‘That’s in four years,’ and now it’s my turn already,” Aquin said.
He added it was nice all three overagers earned at least a point on Saturday.
“Getting the three stars at the end of the game is real nice by the organization,” he added. “They do everything for us.”
Alexander Khovanov and James Phelan scored for Moncton. Captain Nicholas Welsh had two assists while Adam Capannelli and Summerside native Jeremy McKenna each had one.
Matthew Welsh, the younger brother of the Wildcats captain, made 25 saves for the win over his former teammate Mark Grametbauer, who stopped 26 shots in the loss.
Hulton said the game was choppy to start with a few power-play opportunities. Moncton had chances to take the lead, but Welsh rose to the occasion.
“He was huge early,” the bench boss said. “It must be a pretty neat moment for him, probably a hard moment for his parents, when he stones his brother from the high slot early.”
He called it a turning point that allowed the Islanders to get their legs going and score the first goal. Welsh earned his 31st win of the season, which is a franchise record.
“We’ve become so accustomed to his elite level of play that you kind of take it for granted, which isn’t fair to him,” Hulton said. “It’s nice to see him get into the record book because he’s going to set a lot of goalie records that are going to be hard to top because he has a lot of track left in his race.”
Charlottetown held 1-0 and 2-1 period leads.
The Islanders won their final two regular season games to finish ninth overall with a 37-24-7-0. Moncton dropped its last two to finish 27-33-5-3. The Islanders will start the playoffs on the road at Quebec.
Hulton also set a new franchise record for career wins with 117 and received the game puck after the contest.
“I reminded them that good players make good coaches,” Hulton said. “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of good people around me, not just players, but staff.