As has been the case a lot lately for the Charlottetown Islanders, they aren’t counting how, just how many.
Despite letting the lead slip away in the third period once again, the Isles would hold on. Hunter Drew would score midway through the extra frame to defeat the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 3-2 in overtime.
The Islanders would go to work almost immediately on the defending Memorial Cup Champions, firing shot after shot on Titan starter Mark Grametbauer from the outset. The former Islander, to his credit, stood tall in net not just in the first period, but throughout the game.
Charlottetown would finally break the goose-egg midway through the first period. While on the powerplay, Hunter Drew would take a slapshot from the point that Grametbauer would kick aside. Unfortunately for the over-age goalie, he’d kick it right on to the stick of a waiting Kevin Gursoy. The forward from Windsor would make no mistake, scoring his 16th of the year with the man advantage.
The Islanders would continue to spray shots on Grametbauer throughout the rest of the first and in to the second period, and eventually find paydirt once again. It would be Drew Johnston making a nifty move to get around a Titan defender and slide the puck past Grametbauer for his fourth of the season and third point this month since his return from a thumb injury.
From there, the Titan stormed back. While the numbers suggest that Bathurst is a last place team, their determination in this game dictated otherwise. Jesse Sutton and Liam Leonard, two of the most consistent players on the Titan in the second half of the season, would work to get the game back to even. They’d start in the second period; on an odd-man rush, Leonard would slide a pass to a wide-open Sutton, who’d tip it past Isles starter Matthew Welsh for his 18th goal of the season.
Leonard would complete the comeback for the Titan in the third, tying the game up halfway through the frame with his 12th of the season. The Islanders would fire everything they had at Grametbauer for the remainder of the period; as was the story throughout the game, the netminder stood tall in goal, leading his team in to the overtime frame.
Unfortunately for Bathurst, it was all for naught. Hunter Drew would receive a pass from Daniel Hardie at the blueline and streak in, swatting a bouncing puck directly past Grametbauer to give the Isles an important extra point.
It was a relatively quiet night for Welsh in goal, making 15 saves in the victory. Grametbauer was outstanding, 47 saves in the loss. Drew and Hardie each finished with multi-point games, while Liam Peyton and Noah Laaouan added assists on Johnston’s second period goal.
With the win, the Isles inch closer to clinching home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They need just two points in their final two games to secure fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders will wrap up their final home game of the regular season on Friday night against the Moncton Wildcat. There are very limited tickets available for this game; they can be purchased at the Eastlink Centre box office, by phone at 902-213-8873, or online at https://boxoffice.eastlinkcentrepei.com