In a season that began with the roughest of starts, the Islanders achieved what only one other team in Charlottetown’s history was able to do, advance to the President Cup semi-finals, ultimately finishing just one-win shy of the franchise’s first ever finals appearance.
The Islanders began the season on a cold-streak, losing seven of their first eight games. The lone victory came in overtime against the eventual last-place finishing Saint John Sea Dogs.
But as the temperature dropped, the Islanders started to heat up.
Following back-to-back victories against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in early October, Charlottetown’s season turned around. The team would go on to win 13 of their next 15 contests, outscoring their opponents 59 to 43 in that time.
The Islanders would go on to make believers out of the teams around the league, finishing the regular season with the 9th best record in the QMJHL, setting up a first-round matchup with the 8th place Quebec Remparts.
The series would resemble a classic boxing match, with each team landing their blows, but like any classic matchup the battle would go the distance.
With Game 7 taking place at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, following a Game 6 win for the Remparts, the Islanders looked to deliver the finishing blow in hostile territory.
The game would remain close until the third period when the Islanders exploded for six goals, eventually taking the game 8-5. Pascal Aquin finished the night with a dominating 4-goal performance, leading the Islanders into the second round against Maritime Division rival, the Halifax Mooseheads.
The Mooseheads entered the second round ranked amongst the top in the league, finishing the regular season ranked 4th overall while also dominating the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in a first round matchup that lasted just five games.
Similar to their opening series, the Islanders were considered the underdogs against Halifax, but that didn’t stop Hulton’s Hustlers from surprising once again.
Charlottetown would go on to steal Game 1 on the road in overtime before taking the next three games in convincing fashion en route to a series sweep over the high-powered Mooseheads.
With the sweep of Halifax the Islanders advanced to the President Cup semi-finals to face the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for the second-consecutive year.
The top-ranked Armada would jump out to an early series lead, taking the first two games of the semi-finals at home before the series shifted to Charlottetown. Despite being down the Islanders refused to quit, winning back-to-back overtime thrillers at home to even the series.
Blainville-Boisbriand would go on to take Game 5 though, pushing the Islanders to the edge of elimination. Charlottetown answered back in Game 6, with rookie Nikita Alexandrov tying the game in the closing minutes of the third, setting the table in overtime for Cameron Askew to knock his 4th of the post-season past Emile Samson to keep the Islanders’ season alive.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, they seemed to run out of gas in Game 7 with opposing forwards Alexandre Alain, Alex Barre-Boulet and Drake Batherson taking over, scoring a combined 11 points, with five of those point by virtue of Alain who scored a second period hat-trick and added two assists.
As the weather grows warmer and the players return home the Charlottetown Islanders, including graduating players Cameron Askew, Olivier Desjardins and Pascal Aquin, can leave the 2017-18 season with their head’s held high. In a season that was thought to be a rebuild, with the team baring little to no resemblance to the squads from prior years, the Islanders refused to quit and as a result Jim Hulton and his entire Islanders team finished just a couple of bounces away from an upset for the ages, renewing a passion for junior hockey, that P.E.I. had been missing, along the way.
It will be a big offseason for the Islanders, who expect the majority of their team to return next season, while also owning the 4th overall selection in the 2018 QMJHL Draft.