The Charlottetown Islanders are playing some of their best hockey of the season, and excitement around the team continues to grow.
Their opponents on Saturday night, the Shawinigan Cataractes, came into the game on a three game winning streak of their own. The Cataractes stuggled early on in the season, losing their first eight games to start the season.
The Islanders came out of the gates flying on Saturday, but it was the Cataractes who got on the board first.
On an innocent looking play, forward Vasily Glotov made a move into the middle of the ice before snapping a quick wrister by Islanders goaltender Matthew Welsh.
The Cataractes lead was short lived though, as less than a minute later Islanders forward Gregor MacLeod found himself on the receiving end of a beautiful pass from Taylor Egan and fired the puck into the open net.
The score would remain tied at 1-1 as the teams went into the first intermission.
As the second period rolled around the Islanders came out hungry, being the first to seemingly every loose puck and rebound. The physical play of the Isles wore down their opponents, and after the Cataractes took back-to-back penalties the Isles took advantage.
With an extended 5 on 3 power play the Islanders had a lot of open ice to work with. Less than a minute into the man-advantage, Isles captain P.O. Joseph found Saku Vesterinen all alone in the left face-off circle and Vesterinen sent a one-timer screaming past Cataractes starter Mikhail Denisov for a power play goal.
The Islanders were not done there.
Just as the second Cataractes penalty had expired the forecheck of the Islanders payed off again, this time the combo of Sam King and Sullivan Sparkes teamed up to find a pinching Olivier Desjardins for his first goal as an Islander.
Off the following faceoff, with the crowd still cheering, Islanders assistant captain Pascal Aquin dropped the gloves with Shawinigan defencemen Gabriel Sylvestre. The pair had a spirited tilt, with Sylvestre scoring the takedown before officials stepped in to intervene.
The crowd was buzzing with excitement.
As the teams entered the second intermission the Isles lead 3-1, outshooting the Cataractes 18-2 in the period.
In the third period the Cataractes offence began to show signs of life, firing more shots at Welsh in the opening minutes of the third than they did the entire second period.
This pressure was rewarded.
With just under 5 minutes remaining in the period forward Samuel Asselin fired a puck from behind the Islanders net that took a bounce off of Welsh and found its way across the goalline.
From that point on the Cataractes team pushed for the tie, but a Too Many Men penalty in the closing minutes stopped any momentum they had created.
With 48 seconds remaining in the third period Matthew Grouchy connected on a shot that beat Denisov for a power play goal.
Grouchy’s insurance goal sealed the deal and the Isles would go on to win their fourth game in a row.
Head Coach Jim Hulton likes what he has seen from his players on this short streak.
“I thought it was a pretty complete performance start to finish,” he said. “Anywhere from shot-clock to zone time was tilted win our favour and I like the fact that we go pushed a bit at the end but held out composure.
With their win streak now at four the Islanders will look to keep thing going on Thursday, Oct. 26 against the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Puck drop is set for 7pm at the EastLink Centre