Islanders upset Rimouski on a stormy night in Charlottetown
On a stormy night in Charlottetown the wind and snow may have been blowing, but inside the EastLink Centre a relatively small Islanders crowd played witness to a great defensive game that saw the Islanders upset the one of the QMJHL’s top-ranked teams.
With a Winter Storm Warning in effect the Islanders and their fans braved the elements and arrived at the rink for a Thursday night matchup with the the 3rd overall Rimouski Oceanic.
The Islanders went with starter Matthew Welsh between the pipes, with Rimouski going with Jimmy Lemay at the other end of the ice.
The game started out slow for both teams, with each netminder being tested early with multiple shots against in the opening minutes.
Thursday’s game also marked the first game for Cameron Askew and Brett Budgell in the black, white and harvest-gold, with both players coming up big in their Isles’ debuts.
With less than a minute to go in the opening period Askew dropped the mitts with Oceanic forward Alex-Olivier Voyer in the Rimouski zone. The two combatants traded multiple heavy shots during their long tilt, with neither able to score the take down.
Askew wasn’t done there.
At the 8:30 mark of the second period, in just his second shift since serving his 5-minute major, Askew got his stick on a loose puck in the Oceanic zone, firing a shot over the glove of Lemay to open the scoring.
Unfortunately the momentum didn’t last long. Just over two minutes later, a bad bounce in the Islanders zone resulted in a turnover and an easy tap in goal for Rimouski rookie Ludovic Soucy, tying the game at 1-1.
The Isles would answer back though, as just under 5 minutes later Islanders latest signing, 16-year-old Brett Budgell picked up a bouncing puck in the Oceanic zone and fired a shot that managed to find its way through traffic, beating Lemay over the glove-side shoulder for his first career QMJHL goal in his first game.
As the second period came to an end the Isles led 2-1 and were 20 minutes closer to a big upset victory.
In the third period the Isles came out flying, matching the physicality and aggression of the Oceanic squad.
The Isles rolled all four forward lines throughout the night, with each finding success while also generating their fair share of scoring chances along the way.
The third period was played with defence in mind, and the Isles were determined to hold on to their lead.
With just over a minute remaining, with the score still tied, Oceanic head coach Serge Beausoleil pulled Lemay in favour of an extra attacker.
But even with the extra skater on the ice the Isles were able to burn time off the clock and ultimately walk away with the 2-1 victory, upsetting one of the QMJHL’s top teams.
Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton has been a busy man over the past few weeks, and the team he has put together is operating at the top of their game.
“I thought we did a great job away from the puck tonight. We started maybe a little bit slow, a little bit of a residue from the emotional stuff we have gone through with the trades and signs, but I really liked our game away from the puck. It was a 20 man commitment to the win that started with Welsh in net.
Hulton’s Hustlers have been the talk of the QMJHL, and players, staff and fans alike cannot seem to see a limit for this team.
“Games like tonight have a playoff feel to it,” Hulton said. “I think we’re comfortable in tight-checking, low-scoring games, we’ve had to be over the course of the season.”
As for Budgell, he says his new team has what it takes to go as far as possible this season.
“I don’t think we have any limits. I think we have a great group of guys here and I think we can go all the way.”
The Islanders are back in action on Friday, as they play host to the visiting Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Puck drop for that one is set for 7PM and you can get your tickets by calling the EastLink Centre Box Office at 902-629-6625 or by visiting their website.