Islanders win a weird one in Cape Breton
If you watch hockey for the goals and fights, this was the game for you.
In a game that had as many ups as it did downs, the Charlottetown Islanders walked away with a 8-5 victory over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
The mayhem started early in the opening period, as just 42 seconds in, forward Matthew Grouchy stormed up the left-wing and fired a wrister past Cape Breton starter Kevin Mandolese on the Isles first shot of the game.
Just over three minutes later the Isles struck again, this time off the stick of assistant captain Pascal Aquin, who finished off a pretty passing play from P.O. Joseph and Saku Vesterinen to add to his team’s lead.
After allowing two goals on two shot Screaming Eagles head coach Marc-André Dumont pulled Mandolese in favour of Kyle Jessiman.
The change in net must have sparked the Eagles, as less than a minute later Phélix Martineau slide one past Welsh to cut into the Isles lead.
Just over 40 seconds after the Martineau goal, tempers boiled over and Isles defencemen Hunter Drew dropped the gloves with Cape Breton’s Jordan Ty Fournier.
The tilt went on for a while with Drew losing his helmet in the opening seconds. After both combatants exchanged a couple of good shots, Drew scored the takedown forcing officials to step in.
Four minutes later there was more of the rough stuff.
Following a late hit from Martineau on Vesterinen, forward Sullivan Sparkes stepped in to his teammate’s defence. Sparkes and Martineau traded a few good punches, but the tilt was ended rather quickly after Sparkes tripped to the ice.
The physical play continued throughout the period, but after Drew received a slashing penalty, the top-ranked Screaming Eagels power play went back to work.
It took Cape Breton just 24 seconds to get one past Welsh, with Ryan Francis getting credit for his eighth goal of the season on the play.
With the scored now tied 2-2, the Islanders were quick to answer back.
Less than two minutes after the Francis goal, Marcel Berube found the stick of Thomas Casey in the Cape Breton zone and he made no mistake, blasting one past Jessiman for the first goal of his QMJHL career.
With momentum on their side, the Isles kept on coming.
After a failed rush for Cape Breton, the line of Getson, Grouchy and Aquin burst up the ice for the Islanders. Getson threw a pass over to Grouchy, who found Aquin wide-open for his second goal of the game.
At the end of an eventful first period the Islanders were outshot 22-8 but led, 4-2.
Just under three minutes into the second period, Joseph found himself in the box, leading to another Screaming Eagles power play.
The Isles managed to shut down the league’s top power play unit for much of the man-advantage, but with just 13 seconds remaining in the Joseph penalty, rookie Brooklyn Kalmikov found the puck on his stick and beat Welsh.
With the lead cut to 4-3, the Screaming Eagles continued to push.
Cape Breton’s Tyler Hylland would tie the game at the 7:16 mark of the second period, knotting the game at 4-4.
With less than five minutes remaining in the period the Islanders took back the lead on the strength of Sullivan Sparkes’ fifth goal of the season.
The Islanders would hold on to that lead as the teams entered the third period, where again it was Sparkes making an impact.
Three minutes into the third period, Sparkes deflected home a point shot from Drew, increasing his team’s lead to 6-4.
The Isles weren’t done there, as just four minutes later Sam King delivered a perfect pass to Samuel Meisenheimer who fired a shot past Jessiman for the Isles second short-handed goal in as many games.
With just over three minutes remaining the Screaming Eagles pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker.
At the 16:42 mark, following a Matthew Welsh delay of game penalty, Aquin grabbed the puck off a won face-off from Getson and fired it the length of the ice, into the open net for the hat-trick.
The Screaming Eagles would go on to add a goal late but it wasn’t enough, as the Islanders walked out of Cape Breton with the impressive 8-5 victory.
When asked about the game, Islanders head coach Jim Hulton was clear about who he thought stepped up for his team.
“It was a simple storyline tonight. Matt Welsh flat out stole a victory for us on a night where we struggled in most areas. Fortunately, we had some timely offensive performances from Aquin and Sparkes, while Welsh refused to buckle under the constant pressure.”
After a busy few days for his club, Hulton is looking forward to a few days off for his team.
“We will gladly take the two points and head home for some much needed rest.”