CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – A period of hockey changed the Charlottetown Islanders and Quebec Remparts spring dramatically the last time the two teams played.
Overage forward Pascal Aquin scored three of his four goals on the night in the final 20 minutes as the Isles defeated the Remparts 8-3 in Game 7 of the first round. The game had been tied 2-2 heading to third in a series that went back and forth numerous times.
“It’s hard to look back and picture it going another way,” Islanders forward Derek Gentile said Wednesday. “We prepared for the better half of that season for that moment. I think if we played that over again, the same result would come.”
Gentile said the players knew they had the components to be a good team, and that was the moment everything came together. The Isles swept Halifax in the second round and forced the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to the brink in the semifinal before losing Game 7.
“When you win something as emotional as (Game 7), it kind of brings everybody closer together,” he said. “You almost felt like you can't lose. You didn't feel like the season was going to end. It was a really special thing.”
The Islanders (17-7-2-1) host the Remparts (13-11-2-3 before Wednesday’s game in Saint John, N.B.) tonight at 7 p.m.
Each team has made a number of changes since the playoffs, the biggest occurring behind the Remparts bench where Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy is back coaching the squad.
“It’s always fun when you have a hockey legend coming into the building,” Isles head coach Jim Hulton said.
He said the Remparts dealt with the injury bug early in the season but have been playing better of late. The squad still has former Isles forward Matthew Grouchy and Swiss sniper Philipp Kurashev, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick.
“He’s a high-end talent guy that you have to make sure you make it difficult for him,” Hulton said. “If you start turning pucks over or give him too much time and space, he’ll burn you.”
The Islanders are healthy, but Alexander Dersch remains with Germany at the world junior hockey tier 2 tournament.
The team held its annual gift exchange Wednesday with captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph leaving for Team Canada’s selection camp for the world junior tournament on Monday. The team has six games before the Christmas break.
“Focusing our energy in the right direction is important,” Hulton said.