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THE HOT CORNER: Islanders continue impressive run

Sullivan Sparkes is in his first season with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Sullivan Sparkes is in his first season with the Charlottetown Islanders.

This year’s edition of the Charlottetown Islanders had more success than any predecessor in this franchise’s 19-year history. They made it to the third round of the Quebec Major Junior (QMJHL) playoffs last year, where they lost to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in five games.

The rematch in the same round this year has already netted them two wins ahead of Friday night’s Game 5 in Boisbriand, Que. Game 6 goes Sunday in Charlottetown while, if G7 is necessary, it will be played Tuesday in Boisbriand, a community just outside of Montreal.

The winner of this series takes on the Acadia-Bathurst Titan in the league championship series. The Islanders are easily the most surprising team in this year’s QMJHL playoffs and deserve a ton of credit for a great season.

Many thought they would struggle in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but coach/general manager Jim Hulton has done a masterful job turning this team into a contender. They need just two more wins for a chance to play for a league championship and just six more for a berth in the prestigious Memorial Cup.

The Islanders are a resilient bunch with a tremendous work ethic, which can carry a team a long way. Hopefully, we see two more Islander wins and a date with Summerside’s Noah Dobson and the Titan for the Presidents Cup.

DON JOHNSON CUP

The Don Johnson Cup Atlantic junior B hockey championship is underway in Membertou, a community just outside of Sydney, N.S., where the Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings are representing P.E.I.

The Wings had a win and a shootout loss after two days of action in the five-team tournament that appears to be very evenly matched. If the Wings go on to win the Cup, it would be only the fourth time since the championship started in 1982 that P.E.I. won.

O’Leary won in 2002, while the Kensington Vipers won in 2011 and 2013. The first Don Johnson Cup was played in Kensington where the St. John’s Jr. Celtics beat the Kensington Bombers in the final.

JOEL WARD

The NHL playing days of former UPEI Panther Joel Ward appear to be drawing to an end. He has yet to appear in a playoff game this season for the San Jose Sharks, after playing in 52 regular season games.

He had four goals and five assists on the season. The undrafted 37-year-old was one of the most popular players to ever play at UPEI, having spent four seasons there from 2002-2005. After UPEI, he played three seasons in the American Hockey League in Houston, in between signing a contract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. He went on to spend three seasons in Nashville, four in Washington and the last three in San Jose.

The six-foot-one, 225-pound North York, Ont., native has 304 career points, including 133 goals. In 83 playoff games, Ward has 52 points, including 22 goals. He has made just over $24 million in his NHL career, which probably puts him at the top of his graduating class in terms of money earned since graduating.

DRAFT LOTTERY

The NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight in Toronto where the order for the amateur draft in June will be announced. Non-playoff teams get to see who will get that coveted No. 1 pick, expected to be Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin. Scouts rave about the talented Dahlin, who is expected to become a franchise-type player. I think I will say a couple of extra prayers in church in hopes of Detroit getting the pick.

Have a great week!

Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to j-mac@eastlink.ca.

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