Islanders win their last home game of 2017, outlasting the Titan 3-2
The Islanders have been the feel good story of the QMJHL this season and with a win on Friday night they would close the gap and pull within a point of the Maritime Division leading Halifax Mooseheads.
But before they could make a move in their division, the Isles had to square off with the visiting Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
The Isles continued to ride the hot hand of Matt Welsh, as the Islanders all-time leader in wins received yet another start. On the opposite end of the ice, Reilly Pickard was between the pipes for his 27 start of the season.
The Isles entered Friday night’s game against the Titan coming off as win in Halifax on Thursday, and they kept that success rolling in this one.
Just under 5 minutes into the opening period, following an Adam Holwell penalty for hooking, the struggling Isles power play took to the ice looking for the game’s first goal.
At 6:58, with only two seconds remaining on the man advantage, Hunter Drew threw the puck down low to Keith Getson who wired a shot over the glove of Pickard to open the scoring.
After the opening 20 minutes of action, the Isles entered the first intermission leading 1-0.
The second period was dictated by the officials, with numerous minor penalties called, providing both team with several man-advantage opportunities.
It wasn’t until the 18:02 mark of the period that one of the power plays resulted in a goal.
With P.O. Joseph in the box for interference, the Titan power play swarmed the Isles net eventually resulting in Jordan Maher’s 11th goal of the season, tying the game at 1-1.
Eight minutes into the third period the Isles looked to have taken the lead after a scramble in front of the Titan net, but after review it was ruled the puck was kicked in and the score remained tied.
The reversed goal could have deflated the Isles, instead it fired them up, as second after the puck dropped to resume play, Sullivan Sparkes received a pass in the slot from Sam King and fired a shot top-shelf over the blocker of Pickard.
Now trailing, the Titan offence came to life. After only managing 14 shots through the first two periods, the Titan began to throw everything they had at Welsh, resulting in Maher’s second goal of the game after a Matt Welsh save took a bad hop off the skate of Isles defencemen Olivier Desjardins.
With just over five minutes to go, Sparkes managed to knock a bouncing puck out to Joseph who fired a shot through traffic, beating Pickard to give his team the lead.
The Titan would soon pull their goaltender in favour of an extra attacker, and even receive a power play with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, but they could not solve Welsh.
The Isles would go on to take the game 3-2, with Joseph and Sparkes receiving 1st and 3rd star of the game honours respectively.
Islanders Head Coach and General Manager Jim Hulton knows Friday’s win was huge for his team, and he praised they way his players bounced back when faced with adversity.
“This group just continues to be resilient. Welsh made timely saves when needed, once again he was really solid and we got contributions from everyone in our lineup,” Hulton said. “We stuck with it, and it was a gritty, scrappy effort in the end.”
The Isles have one more game remaining in 2017, as the group travels to Bathurst on Sunday for a 1 pm match-up with the Titan.