It’s been a long time coming Isles faithful but the day is finally here, game one of the President Cup playoffs! Even though it’s already May, it’s still crazy to think we’ve put 68 games behind us and are gearing up for the biggest challenge yet, post-season hockey. The Islanders narrowly missed out on first place overall as Quebec beat them out by a point, which means the Isles path to QMJHL champions won’t be an easy one. The Islanders have the gut feeling though that this is their year, well, it seems like it almost has to be their year. Jim Hulton put both feet in the deep end at the trade deadline putting the rest of the league on notice that this Charlottetown team is going to be one to wreak some havoc. Now, it’s time the Isles prove their coach right and do just that, wreak some havoc across a condensed playoffs. These first three series in the post-season are just best of fives, which means that the Islanders will need to take care of business faster and play harder on each opponent than ever. The push begins tonight as the Moncton Wildcats enter our barn for game one of the opening round, the puck drops at 7 pm.
The Islanders won the season series by a large margin in 2021-22 taking it 6-2. Charlottetown outscored Moncton 30-15 across those meetings.
The Wildcats put up a more respectable record than what they were originally thought to do this season. Their roster has a lot of youth on it but that youth performed very well over the course of the season and some of their more seasoned players put up some big performances. In this series, the Islanders biggest problem will most likely be Jonathan Lemieux. Lemieux seemed to have the game of his life every time the Isles stepped foot on the ice to play the Wildcats. Even in the game, they won 4-0, Lemieux stopped 46 of 50 shots, proving he could have kept his team alive if they could have scored. For a goalie the Saint John Sea Dogs didn’t believe in, trading him at the deadline, I bet they wouldn’t mind the way he is performing now. If the Wildcats have any hope of claiming a victory in this series, let alone making a run to win this series, they will need Lemieux to shine at his brightest yet along with their veteran leaders to step up and solve Lappena early. The Wildcats are heavy underdogs to start round one, but our pesky Maritime foes should never be counted out until that final buzzer sounds.
Season Scoring Leaders for Moncton
The Islanders enter this series with a lot more pressure on them as they have everything on the line for this post-season. They’ve been in the CHL’s top-ten list all year long and were at the head of the table in the Q for a large majority of the season as well. Now, that all goes away as the real grind begins. No one cares anymore what you did in the regular season, it’s all about what you do now. The Islanders are built for the playoffs, so it’s time to put up or shut up. The Isles showed many flashes of brilliance over the course of the season and are fueled by multiple stars. The mission is clear, deliver the trophy to Charlottetown for the first time in QMJHL history. The first step in accomplishing that is taking down the Moncton Wildcats, which they’ve done over a handful of times this year. Franky Lappena will look to settle in early and let his offense do what they do best, score. In this series, watch out for the Islanders top-line to break out and fill the net, and prove that they were just warming up coming down the home stretch.
Season Scoring Leaders for Islanders
Injury/Roster Update: Drew Elliott is a game-time decision. Ben Boyd is considered doubtful for this series but is progressing nicely. Patrick LeBlanc remains out for the foreseeable future. Francesco Lappena gets the call between the pipes.
Once again, the frozen biscuit drops to begin round one at 7 pm this evening at the Eastlink Centre. Get out and help your boys in black and harvest gold protect the bridge.
GO ISLES GO!