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Charlottetown on course as defence improves leading to eight wins in its last 10 games
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Steady as she goes for the Charlottetown Islanders as it navigates the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
But Islanders head coach Jim Hulton thinks the team is cutting through the waves on a more than acceptable clip, despite sometimes choppy waters.
“I think a little better than steady. We’ve won eight of our last 10 games and starting to round into form. We’re showing a bit more of the identity we’re looking for,” said Hulton, who doubles as Isles general manager. “Offence has been a pleasant surprise, but defence is not where it needs to be… (still) we’ve come a long way in the last two weeks.”
Hulton and crew look to continue the journey Tuesday versus the Mooseheads in Halifax, N.S. Game time is 7 p.m. for the Maritimes Division tilt.
Charlottetown (14-7-1, 29 points) is third in the division behind leader the Moncton Wildcats (18-4-2, 38 points) and the second place Herd (16-4-1, 33 points), and sits sixth overall in the league.
But Halifax is a tough out. While is only two goals ahead of Charlottetown in the goals-for category (94 versus 92, respectively), it’s well ahead of the Isles in goals-against.
Halifax sits at a 55-76 advantage in that category and too-frequently being scored on has vexed Hulton this season.
That’s made more prevalent by the Herd leading the season series 2-0, holding 11-4 goals-for-against advantage in the games and owning an 8-2 thumping of Charlottetown in the last meeting in October in Charlottetown.
So it’s on his mind and a key point for Tuesday’s battle with Halifax.
“Our goals against is way too high. Our penalty kill (73.2 per cent) and power play (15.0 per cent) have to be better,” he said. “(Against Halifax) it’s about awareness, managing the puck, not turning it over. We have to play high-percentage, low-risk hockey. Stay controlled and committed to team defence on the important parts of the ice.”
Matthew Welsh (11-6, 3.47 goals-against average, .886 save percentage) gets the start in the Isles goal.
Keep Your Eyes On Them
Who to watch in Tuesday’s Charlottetown Islanders-Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL contest in Halifax, N.S.
Scoring - Samuel Asselin, 15 goals, 26 points, 22 games; Benoit-Olivier Groulx, 12 goals, 25 points, 19 games; Arnaud Durandeau, 10 goals, 25 points, 21 games.
Goaltending - Alexis Gravel, 11-4-1, 2.81 GAA, .914 save percentage.
Scoring - Daniel Hardie, 15 goals, 28 points, 22 games; Derek Gentile, four goals, 22 points, 22 games; Keith Getson, nine goals, 21 points, 22 games.
Goaltending - Matthew Welsh, 11-6, 3.47 GAA, .886 save percentage.