Islanders drop Game 5 as series shifts back to Charlottetown

BOISBRIAND, QUE. – The math is simple.

The Charlottetown Islanders must win Sunday to force a Game 7 in their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

Game time is 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre, and the contest was nearing a sellout on Friday night.

Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said there is “zero” panic on his team’s part.

“We’re playing good hockey, so there’s not a whole lot that has to be changed,” he said. “This team just doesn’t give up. They find ways to (get) back in” games and series.

The host Armada pushed the Isles to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 win Friday in Boisbriand, Que.

“We’re excited,” Hulton said after the game. “We were a goal away tonight in their building in a must-win game for them. They’re looking at it as an absolute must-win because they don’t want to go back into a sold-out Eastlink Centre knowing they have to win to save their season.”

Hulton described Friday’s game as another heavyweight battle in a series that has been tight-checking and low scoring since the puck dropped for Game 1. The Armada came hard at the visitors early, the coach acknowledged, but he said goalie Matthew Welsh was “fantastic” and the team in front of him did a good job of keeping the chances to the outside.

Alex Barre-Boulet, the league’s regular season scoring champ, scored the winner off a Drake Batherson rebound 11 minutes into the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Alexandre Alain had the other assists.

“Our goal is to push this as tight as we can, as long as we can, and it basically turned into a 10-minute game,” Hulton said. “Off a scramble draw, they got a bounce and Boulet capitalized. We had some looks after, and it’ll be the same thing Sunday night, but we think that crowd will be the difference-maker.”

Batherson opened the scoring Friday five minutes into the second period for the Armada and his fellow Nova Scotian teammate, Luke Henman, doubled the lead five minutes later.

The Islanders battled back to tie it with power-play goals by Cameron Askew and Derek Gentile a minute apart. Askew’s goal came on a five-on-three.

Keith Getson, Brett Budgell, Saku Vesterinen and captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph had assists.

Pascal Corbeil, Alex Barre-Boulet, Samuel Bolduc and Tobie Paquette-Bisson had helpers for the Armada.

Emile Samson had 23 saves for the win while Matthew Welsh stopped 43 shots in the loss.

Blainville-Boisbriand was 1-for-3 on the power play while Charlottetown was 2-for-3.

Exactly how many tickets were available Friday night was unable at press time. The Eastlink Centre box office will be open today from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

Game 7, if necessary, is Tuesday at 8 p.m. Atlantic in Boisbriand.

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