For Pascal Aquin, the 2017-2018 season kicked off on what must have been a rollercoaster ride.
That’s because during the preseason, the overage forward was suspended for an incident where he made head contact with a Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defender. That incident would force Aquin to sit out the final game of the preseason, along with the first seven games of the regular season. A week later, Aquin would be named one of the team’s assistant captains.
Aquin finally made his regular season debut on October 11th against the aforementioned Screaming Eagles. His return couldn’t have come at a better time; he reclaimed his regular slot alongside Keith Getson and Matthew Grouchy on the top line and brought the gritty, high-octane game that fans knew and love from 2016-2017.
His impact soon began to be felt on the scoresheet, too. His first point on the season came in the following game, and he proceeded to score four more points in the next five games. His greatest impact though may have come on special teams. In the first nine games of the season, the Islanders gave up nine powerplay goals. In the following six games, the Isles gave up just two. Aquin was an integral cog in what became one of the league’s toughest penalty killing units.
Often looked at through his junior career as a role player, Aquin was blossoming in to a bona fide top-6 forward. By the end of 2017 Aquin had scored 15 goals, breaking his previous career high set just the year before.
Aquin’s strongest statistical month of the regular season would come in March, as the season winded down. Aquin would post six goals and ten points in just eight games, as the Islanders headed into the playoffs with momentum on their side. Aquin would finish the regular season with career highs in goals (24), assists (19) and points (43).
It was in those playoffs that Aquin forged his name as a hero among Islanders fans. Quietly having a productive opening round series against Quebec with four points in his first six games, Aquin exploded for four goals in the now-famous Game 7 against the Remparts. That four-goal game was the first in playoff history for the entire franchise, even dating back to the Montreal Rocket days, and only the tenth four-goal game in franchise history.
Aquin didn’t stop there. He was a catalyst for the Islanders in their second round matchup against the Mooseheads, with five points in the four-game sweep. He gave the Mooseheads defenders fits on the forecheck, causing a number of turnovers and chances due to his tenacious play. By the end of the Islanders’ magical playoff run Aquin finished with eight goals, good for ninth among all players and second on the Islanders.
Pascal Aquin’s stellar play all season long didn’t go unnoticed by pro scouts. The Buffalo Sabres quickly signed the forward to a 2-year AHL deal with the Rochester Americans, along with an invite to the Sabres development camp, where he graced the ice with the likes of highly-touted prospects Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt.
Players and fans alike will certainly miss Aquin’s strong play and affable personality, and we wish him nothing but the best in his pro career!