The Charlottetown Islanders are coming home.
It was a hard-fought game, but the smallest of mistakes makes the difference. Shawn Element scored the game-winner in the second period and Benjamin Tardif scored into the empty net as the Victoriaville Tigres eliminate the Islanders in Game 5 of the President Cup Semi-Finals.
“All you can ask for as a coach is that your team leaves everything on the ice, and they did,” said Islanders head coach Jim Hulton on tonight’s game. “We can’t control whether we win or lose; it’s part of the process. We can only control what we can control; both teams played incredibly disciplined, both teams played incredible defensively, so it comes down to a bounce or break, and that’s what it was.”
The two teams kept things tight throughout the opening half of the game. It was typical of two teams not giving each other any openings to take advantage of. The two netminders, Colten Ellis and Nikolas Hurtubise, refused to bend or break between the pipes, doing everything they could to give their respective teams the edge.
Unfortunately for Charlottetown, the first crack in the fortress came on their side. Late in the second period, an errant pass was intercepted by Element in the slot and he made no mistake, whipping a shot low on Ellis that just bounced through his legs and into the net. Element’s ninth goal of the post-season gave the Tigres a pivotal 1-0 lead heading in to the third period.
Charlottetown would push extremely hard in the final frame to get on the board, doing everything within their power to crack the scoresheet. They had a multitude of opportunities but Hurtubise, the 19-year-old Tigres netminder, had an answer each time. The Tigres would ice it in the dying seconds of the game; Tardif would contribute his sixth goal of this series into the open cage to secure the victory for his team.
Ellis made 21 saves in defeat, capping off an incredible QMJHL career leaving it all on the ice. He, Cédric Desruisseaux, and Thomas Casey all deserve credit for their major junior careers over the past four seasons.
Following the game, the three graduating Islanders thanked the league for their efforts in pulling the season off successfully. It was something that caught their coaches attention.
“I’ve been around this game for 25 years, and this is the proudest I’ve ever been of a group,” added Hulton. “What they each faced and what they handled, they never moaned or complained. I’m proud to sit here now after watching each of our three graduating 20-year-olds express gratitude for our league giving them a chance to play. That’s way bigger than tonight’s game.”
“These kids were absolutely incredible, proudest group I’ve ever been a part of. Hold your head high.”
On behalf of the Charlottetown Islanders, we’d like to thank all our fans, sponsors, and partners for all their support this season. We will see you soon!