For a second consecutive games, the Charlottetown Islanders took it to the Saint John Sea Dogs offensively, scoring at least five goals. This time around though, the offense wasn’t matched.
Kevin Gursoy was a man possessed, scoring three times against his former team, the Isles tightened up defensively, and Matthew Welsh made 35 saves en route to a 6-0 victory over the 17th-place Sea Dogs.
“That was a good response to the disappointment from Saturday night’s loss.” said head coach Jim Hulton on tonight’s game. “Welshy was really good, he deserved that shutout. I thought we were much closer to the team that we need to be than we were on Saturday in Saint John.”
The Islanders got the scoring going in the first period thanks to Liam Peyton. The big forward, seeing some time on the powerplay, tipped in a Noah Laaouan point shot past Sea Dogs starter Mikhail Denisov for his ninth goal of the season.
Gursoy would get his first on the game in the dying moments of the first, walking in off the wing on a 2-on-1 and sniping five-hole on Denisov for his 12th of the season.
Hunter Drew would add his 13th of the year off a pretty give-and-go with Cole Edwards before Gursoy got back in on the action, picking up a nice tip pass from Brett Budgell and walking in on Denisov relatively uncontested, going backhand and top shelf for his second of the game, giving the Isles the 4-0 lead.
The forward from Windsor, Ontario would complete the hat trick late in the game with the nicest goal of the evening, dekeing around a Sea Dogs defender and outwaiting Denisov before tapping it in over his blocker, giving Gursoy his first-ever hat trick.
Gursoy’s performance against Saint John is just another outstanding performance against the team that traded him for a sixth-round pick. Of Gursoy’s 37 points this season, 16 have come against the Sea Dogs, averaging two points per matchup. Gursoy says that while being traded is all part of the business of hockey, he still enjoyed sticking it to his former teammates.
“You always get up a little bit against your old team, playing against guys that you’ve known for a while.” Gursoy said regarding his performance against Saint John this season. “You never leave on bad terms. It’s a business at this level; but it’s nice to have a good game against your old team, and shove it to them a little bit.”
Sullivan Sparkes recorded the other marker for the Islanders. The forward was a call-up from Summerside after being assigned to the Maritime Hockey League earlier in the season; he turned in a great performance playing alongside Gursoy and Daniel Hardie. Sparkes said it felt great to be back with his old teammates.
“It took a few shifts to get used to the speed and execution again, but I thought I fit in well.” said Sparkes following the game.
“He brings another dynamic to the team, not only on the ice but in the locker room as well.” added Gursoy. “It’s been nice to have him back up here, and for him to tonight was the cherry on top.”
Sparkes’ efforts were certainly noticed not only by his teammates, but by his coaches as well.
“We were really impressed.” said Hulton on Sparkes. “It’s not an easy thing to do, to come up after having not been at this level for a long time, but he honestly jumped in and didn’t look like he missed a step.”
“He got a goal, competed, and played smart. Everything we’ve come to expect from Sully. We’re glad to have him at our disposal.”
Forward Thomas Casey was shut down in the third with an upper body issue and is doubtful for tomorrow night’s game. The team is in the process of trying to recall Patrick LeBlanc from the major midget Moncton Flyers in time. The third round pick from the 2018 draft lead all players in the New Brunswick-Prince Edward Island Major Midget League in points, and was expected to get some time with the Islanders this weekend prior to the beginning of the Flyers’ playoffs.
There isn’t much turnover for the Islanders, as they’re right back on the ice tomorrow night at 7:00pm when the Gatineau Olympiques come to town. Tickets are available at the Eastlink Centre box office, by phone at 902-629-6625, or online at https://boxoffice.eastlinkcentrepei.com. Tomorrow night is our final Student Night of the season; all students can get in to the game for just $3, while all 19+ beverages are also just $3! We can’t wait to see you at the rink!