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Islanders not taking young Sea Dogs lightly

Acadie-Bathurst Titan goalie Mark Grametbauer stops Charlottetown Islanders left-winger Brett Budgell Saturday at the Eastlink Centre.
Acadie-Bathurst Titan goalie Mark Grametbauer stops Charlottetown Islanders left-winger Brett Budgell Saturday at the Eastlink Centre. - Jason Malloy

Charlottetown heading to Saint John, N.B., looking for victory after losing its last game in Port City

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The Charlottetown Islanders are looking to close out 2018 with a three-game winning streak.

The Islanders (22-10-2-1) roll into Saint John, N.B., today for a 2 p.m. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game with the Sea Dogs (6-26-2-1). Charlottetown dropped a 6-4 decision to the young Sea Dogs on Dec. 14 in the Port City.

“They took some points from us (last time), so hopefully that’s still fresh in the minds of our guys,” associate coach Guy Girouard said Sunday. “We always remind them they’re a young, skilled, talented team that plays with no pressure and they’re pretty good at home, so we have to be sure we’re ready.”

Matthew Welsh gets the start for the Islanders.

The Sea Dogs acquired Quebec Remparts captain Benjamin Gagné, an overage forward, on Saturday for an eighth-round pick in 2021.

The Islanders started the post-Christmas stretch of games with home wins against Halifax on Friday and Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday. 

Overage forward Jordan Maher and defenceman Noah Laaouan made their debuts Friday while blue-liner Xavier Bernard was in the lineup Saturday after serving a one-game suspension he received while with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

“All players came as advertised,” Girouard said.

Maher slipped into the middle with wingers Kevin Gursoy and overager Daniel Hardie. He had a goal and three assists in the two victories.

“We know he’s a gamer and he’s a winner,” Girouard said of the Gander, N.L., native who won the Memorial Cup a year ago with the Titan. “He walked into the room before (Friday’s) game, stepped in and played really well, which said a lot about his character. He’s not packing it in, he’s coming in here and wants to make a statement.”

Laaouan seems to have chemistry playing with rookie Lukas Cormier. Bernard, one of seven defencemen who played Saturday, was matched with a few different partners.

“You can see he has the big shot,” Girouard said of the six-foot-three, 204-pound Mercier, Que., native. “He’s a real good skater and he’s not afraid to take the body.”

Hardie had two goals and two assists Saturday as the Islanders defeated the Titan 6-2.

Maher, with his first as an Islander, Nikita Alexandrov, Liam Peyton and Gursoy also scored while Bernard recorded his first point with an assist. Thomas Casey and Maher each had two helpers while singles went Cormier, Drew Johnston, Hunter Drew, Alexandrov and Gursoy.

Yan-Cedric Gaudreault and Mathieu Desgagnes replied for the Titan. Mermaid’s Cole Larkin made his Island debut with the Titan. He was drafted by the Halifax Mooseheads in 2018 and traded to Bathurst as part of the Samuel Asselin deal in September. Larkin, 16, started the year with the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride but recently was recalled by the Titan. He has played five games.

Dakota Lund-Cornish made 22 saves for the win while former Isles netminder Mark Grametbauer was peppered with 57 shots in the loss.

Charlottetown held 2-1 and 3-1 period leads.

The Titan is a league-worst 6-28-0-1.

Islanders rookie forward Xavier Fortin didn’t play Saturday due to the flu. His status for today’s game was not certain on Sunday.

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