CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Good things happen when you go to the net.
Charlottetown Islanders rookie left-winger Thomas Casey scored the game-winning goal Sunday as a Cayse Ton shot deflected to him midway through the third period. The Charlottetown native potted his seventh of the season as the Isles defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-3.
“Saint John has really good goaltending,” Casey said. “We were getting shots on him all night, but he wasn't cracking, so I just tried to get to the net and, fortunately, the puck made its way to me.”
Head coach Jim Hulton said right-winger Nathaniel Doyon made a good defensive play in the neutral zone and got the puck to Ton. Casey’s net-drive is an example of what the team is looking for.
“It’s something we’ve really tried to stress here in the last two weeks, getting in the inside of the dots and getting to the net hard with at least one guy.”
The Casey-Ton-Doyon line’s play had dipped in the last couple of weeks, but they corrected it on Sunday.
“They were great today,” the coach said. “They had a lot of energy. Their skating legs were there and (they) came through with two huge goals. . .
“They were effective every shift and they earned the right to have extra ice time today.”
The Islanders led 1-0 and 3-1, but the Sea Dogs scored with 2:12 left in the second period and two minutes into the third.
“Saint John just kept coming back and coming back,” Casey said. “They’re a team that has nothing to lose, so it was definitely a big win and two points we needed, battling with Gatineau for home ice.”
Sea Dogs captain Bailey Webster said it was a tough loss after coming out with a great start only to be flat to begin the second period.
“The game had its ups and downs, but I thought we competed hard,” the Kelvin Grove native said after playing his final regular season game at the Eastlink Centre. “They got that lucky one there at the end.”
He said the young Sea Dogs have been good at coming back, but need to get out of the gate better.
“We can’t make it harder on ourselves every game,” he said. “We’re going to learn from it.”
Hulton said the Islanders need four lines going in order to play its high-energy game. It got a good contribution Sunday from its third line of Sullivan Sparkes flanked by Sam King and Cam Askew.
Hulton said Askew has been struggling offensively of late, but still playing good hockey.
“There’s other ways to contribute to team success,” he said, noting the veteran had a big hit in the second period and broke up a three-on-two. “Those are all big things that aren’t missed by coaches or teammates.”
Sunday’s game started a stretch of four home games in eight days for the Islanders.
They host the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (35-15-7-2) on Tuesday, the Victoriaville Tigres (34-20-4-2) on Friday and Moncton Wildcats (25-28-5-3) on Sunday.
“Bathurst is a good team,” Casey said. “We’re on a bit of a roll right now, using our hard-working mentality. . . I think the two points is definitely up for grabs on Tuesday against Bathurst.”
A look at some of the statistics from Sunday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest between the host Charlottetown Islanders and the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Saint John – 3.
Charlottetown – 5.
Saint John – Radim Salda, William Poirier and Cole Reginato.
Charlottetown – Nikita Alexandrov, Cayse Ton, Brett Budgell, Thomas Casey and Daniel Hardie (empty net).
Saint John – William Poirier, Bailey Webster, Ostap Safin, Tyler Smith and Robbie Burt.
Charlottetown – Brett Budgell, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Thomas Casey, Nikita Alexandrov, Hunter Drew, Cayse Ton, Nathaniel Doyon and Keith Getson.
Saint John – Alex D’Orio, 43 saves on 47 shots.
Charlottetown – Matthew Welsh, 16 saves on 19 shots.
Saint John – 0-for-2.
Charlottetown – 1-for-2.
Saint John – 33.
Charlottetown – 28.
Attendance – 2,887.
50/50 – $1,610.
Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said he liked the team’s ability to get to the net. “Ton end ups almost in the Zamboni room because he drove the net so hard” on his goal.
Did you know – Islanders defenceman Brendon Clavelle returned from a shoulder injury sustained Jan. 27 against Cape Breton. “He was back to steady, dependable, reliable, which are key words when you’re talking about Brendon,” Hulton said.