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UPDATE: Islanders to play Remparts in opening round of QMJHL playoffs

Charlottetown Islanders. Submitted
Charlottetown Islanders. Submitted

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders will play the Quebec Remparts in the first round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

It means Remparts forwards Gregor MacLeod and Matthew Grouchy will play against their former teammates. They were dealt to Quebec on Jan. 2 for Derek Gentile and a third-round pick, which was subsequently flipped to Shawinigan for overage forward Cam Askew.

“You never know what transactions are going to circle back around, so it’s definitely a sub-plot that adds to (the series) and I’m sure extra incentive for all three kids,” Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said Sunday night. “We hope that both Gregor and Matthew have good series, but not that good.”

RELATED: Islanders win final game of regular season.

The Islanders took Sunday off and return to practice Monday.

“They’ll be pretty fired up,” Hulton suggested. “The enthusiasm level will be through the roof. A day of rest and (now) it’s finally here.”

The Islanders knew for the past week they were likely going to play either Quebec or Rouyn-Noranda in Round 1 and were watching tape on both clubs. With a full week off, the longest stretch since Christmas, the Islanders will have a chance to gradually implement their game plan.

Quebec (40-22-3-3) finished eighth in the regular season standings, five points ahead of ninth-place Charlottetown (37-24-7-0).

The Islanders were 1-0-1-0 against the Remparts this season, losing 6-5 in overtime in Charlottetown on Oct. 7 and winning 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 2 in Quebec. The Islanders are the only team not to lose in the shootout this season (4-0).

The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was 2015 when the Memorial Cup-hosting Remparts swept the Islanders in the second round.

Hulton was pleased with how his team performed during the regular season and embraced the underdog mentality since training camp began in Cornwall in August.

“Every single publication I read, with the possible exception of The Guardian, picked us to not just miss the playoffs, but to be 18th in an 18-team league,” Hulton said. “These guys embraced (the us-against-the-world attitude) and they’re the ones that deserve the credit.”

There’s a few interesting matchups around the league. Here are a couple of them:

• A pair of friends from Summerside will go head-to-head when Moncton Wildcats right-winger Jeremy McKenna meets Rimouski Oceanic left-winger Carson MacKinnon.

• The top-ranked Blainville-Boisbriand Armada meets the 16th-ranked Val-d’Or Foreurs. Two years ago, the 13th-ranked Armada eliminated the fourth-place Foreurs in the first round.

• Victoriaville Tigres centre Vitalii Abramov will play against his former team, the Gatineau Olympiques, in the opening round. He was traded Nov. 17 after playing the first 2 ½ seasons with Gatineau. He had 26 points in 16 games before the trade and has 78 points in 40 games in Victo.

• Halifax is playing Baie-Comeau in Round 1. The teams were part of one of the league’s biggest traded during the past decade when Baie-Comeau drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall in 2011 then shipped him to his hometown team in return for Carl Gelinas, Francis Turbide, two first-round picks in 2013 and another in 2012. The Mooseheads defeated the Drakkar for the President Cup in 2013 en route to a Memorial Cup victory.

Here is the schedule (all times Atlantic) for the best-of-seven series:

Saturday, March 24

4 p.m. – Charlottetown at Quebec

Sunday, March 25

4 p.m. – Charlottetown at Quebec

Wednesday, March 28

7 p.m. – Quebec at Charlottetown

Friday, March 30

7 p.m. – Quebec at Charlottetown

Saturday, March 31

3 p.m. – Quebec at Charlottetown

Monday, April 2

7 p.m. – Charlottetown at Quebec

Tuesday, April 3

7 p.m. – Charlottetown at Quebec

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