A packed house at the Eastlink Centre witnessed some hard-hitting, high-impact, playoff-like hockey on Friday night between the Charlottetown Islanders and the Moncton Wildcats.
Unfortunately for the Isles, they came up on the wrong end of the scoresheet. Jeremy McKenna’s 45th goal of the season would stand as the game-winner, and the Wildcats defeated the Isles 3-2.
Charlottetown would come out of the gates with some extra zip in their step and got on the board early. A bouncing puck would squirt out to Brendon Clavelle at the point and he’d quickly throw a shot towards the goal. The puck would beat Wildcats starter Francis Leclerc cleanly to give Clavelle his fourth goal of the season and the Islanders an early 1-0 lead.
The game tempo would continually rise throughout the period, as the two teams traded shots both on net and in the corners. Hit after hit, Charlottetown and Moncton would try to knock each other in to submission early and often, but neither would back down.
The action on the scoresheet would open up in the back-half of the second period, and it would be the Wildcats capitalizing first. In a mad scramble in front of Matthew Welsh, Eliot Desnoyers would find a loose puck and swat it in to the net to tie the game at 1’s. for Desnoyers, that would be his 12th of the season.
The Wildcats would take the lead just minutes later thanks to Alexander Khovanov. The Minnesota Wild draft pick was left alone in front of Welsh and received a perfect feed from Jakob Pelletier. Khovanov would make no mistake on the wide open cage for his 25th of the season.
The Isles would tie it back up shortly thereafter thanks to Cole Edwards. He’d follow a Hunter Drew shot and pick up the rebound in front of Leclerc, tucking it in for his sixth of the season and a tie game closing in on the third.
Unfortunately, the Isles wouldn’t escape the second with the tie. Immediately following a Drew Johnston slashing penalty, Jordan Spence would take a point shot that McKenna would get a stick on, deflecting the puck past Welsh.
Despite a great effort in the third by the Islanders, that goal would stand as the game-winner, keeping Moncton’s chances at home ice in the first round of the playoffs alive for another day.
Leclerc was great for the Wildcats, making 33 saves for the win. Despite the loss, Welsh was also outstanding, recording 23 saves in defeat. With his assist on the Cole Edwards goal, Daniel Hardie now has 100 career points as a Charlottetown Islander.
Islanders head coach Jim Hulton saw a number of positives in the game, saying that overall it was a good game.
“The only disappointment in this game is the result, but everything else was great,” said Hulton. “We had a fantastic start, one the better starts we’ve had in the past two months. We had good pushback, had some good looks late in the third, and they just didn’t go in. That’s hockey.”
With the loss, the Isles remain in fourth in the Eastern Conference, but are now just one point up on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and two points up on the Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens, who all won tonight. Tomorrow’s day of action will determine the final playoff positioning for all four teams.
The Isles will hit the road tomorrow morning for a big game against the Halifax Mooseheads, a game that will be featured nationally on Sportsnet’s CHL Saturday Showcase. Catch all the action at 4:30pm on TV or on the airwaves with George Matthews and Cory Arsenault on Fair Isle Ford Isles Radio!