BOISBRIAND, QUE. – Thomas Casey and his Charlottetown Islanders teammates are trying to treat tonight like any other game, even though they know it isn’t.
The Islanders play the top-ranked Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in Game 7 of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal at 8 p.m. Atlantic in the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand, Que. The Islanders have already gone deeper in the playoffs than any team in franchise history and it is looking to take it one step further.
“You know there’s a lot on the line and this franchise hasn’t been to a league final and we want to achieve that as a team,” Casey said before the morning skate.
The rookie forward from Charlottetown said it’s fun play in May.
“When the grass is green, you know it’s late into the season. It’s been pretty fun and we just want to keep playing as long as possible.”
While many hockey observers have continually counted the team out during the pre-season, regular season and post-season, the group is confident in its ability.
“From the outside looking in, a lot of people see a ninth-place seed that maybe didn’t have a chance to come this far,” said forward Derek Gentile. “We know we’re a really good team and we have faith in each other.”
Cayse Ton, who has been a key piece to the club’s energy line, said there is a strong bond within the squad.
“We (have) a team-first mentality. We don’t really care who is the hero,” he said. “We just want to go out there and win it for the team.”
The lines sometimes get shuffled during a game as head coach Jim Hulton and his staff of Guy Girouard and Brad MacKenzie looks for the right fit.
Gentile said with no carved-in-stone line combinations the pieces are interchangeable and it makes them dangerous.
“When we’re going into overtime, you know there’s possibly 21 heroes in the room. (You’re) not just looking at one guy.”