BOISBRIAND, QUE. – The Charlottetown Islanders proved they can play with the top-ranked Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Friday night.
The game was tied 1-1 until Armada forward Alexander Katerinakis scored the winner midway through the third period as the home side took Game 1 of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal 3-1. Game 2 is today at 8 p.m. in Boisbriand, Que.
“I think we proved to ourselves that we’re in this series. We belong in this series for a reason,” Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said. “Throw out the standings and all of that other crap. We’re a good hockey team and we’re going to push this team to the brink and do what it takes to win the series.”
Armada forward Joel Teasdale from Aleksi Anttalainen and Michael Kemp opened the scoring 1:35 into the game.
Forty-five seconds later Isles defenceman Hunter Drew took a boarding penalty, giving the high-powered Armada power play a chance to take command of the contest early. Hulton said he liked his team’s response by killing the penalty and settling in.
Derek Gentile tied it with 2:12 left in the second period. Captain Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph and rookie Brett Budgell had assists. Joseph spotted Gentile as he hit his own blue-line and fired him the puck. Gentile hit the Armada blue-line with speed and split the Blainville-Boisbriand defence before going to the backhand to beat Armada goalie Emile Samson upstairs.
After Katerinakis scored the Isles refused to go away.
“They scored a goal to go up 2-1 and we come down on a line rush and (Sam) King wires one off the pipe right after on a similar type of play to what they scored on,” Hulton explained. “There’s little margin of error between the two teams, and that was probably the difference tonight.”
It was one of at least two and maybe three times the Isles rang iron on the night.
“It was a hell of a playoff game,” Hulton said.
With the Isles looking to tie it, Charlottetown forward Pascal Aquin took an interference penalty with 1:33 left and Drew was whistled for tripping off the next faceoff. Both didn’t like the calls and were handed 10-minute misconducts.
Hulton said the refereeing was good, but he thought the Aquin penalty was a marginal call off a net-front battle at that time of the game.
Alexandre Alain from Drake Batherson and Pascal Corbeil scored a power-play goal with 1:15 left to ice it. Luke Henman had the lone assist on Katerinakis’ game-winning goal.
Samson made 19 saves for the win while Matthew Welsh stopped 22 shots in the loss.
The Armada outshot the Isles 11-3 in the first period, but the visitors held a 10-7 advantage in the second frame.