Jim Hulton was blunt in his assessment of the Charlottetown Islanders’ efforts on Saturday night.
“It was a horses–t effort.” said the Islanders head coach and general manager.
Alex-Olivier Voyer had a goal and two assists, Oliver Okuliar had three assists, and Samuel Poulin recorded a goal and an assist as the Sherbrooke Phoenix defeated the Charlottetown Islanders 6-4 in front of a lively Eastlink Centre crowd.
“We only played ten minutes of hockey, and we got exactly what we deserved.” Continued Hulton. “We took them for granted and that always comes back to haunt you.”
The scoring started early for the Phoenix, as they capitalized on some sloppy Islanders play in their own end. A miscommunication between Matthew Welsh and an Islanders defender led to Patrick Guay finding a loose puck and feeding Poulin for his 22nd goal on the season.
Poulin, one of the top-rated QMJHL prospects ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft, came exactly as advertised according to Hulton.
“As a staff, we weren’t surprised by anything.” said Hulton regarding Poulin’s play. “We warned the team this morning that we were going to see a real good hockey team coming in with a high-end talent.”
Voyer would score his 24th of the season very late in the first period to send the Phoenix in to the locker room with a two-goal lead after one period. They’d kick things off almost exactly as they did in the first period; on a 4-on-3 poweplay, Ryan Da Silva would wire a one-time shot past Islanders starter Matthew Welsh to extend the Phoenix lead to 3.
Felix Robert would score late in the second and Jaxon Bellamy would add a marker in the third period as the Phoenix would score 5 straight goals on Matthew Welsh. The Islanders were out-played throughout the duration of this game and the score reflected that.
The Isles would finally awake from their slumber early in the third, as Hunter Drew would take a slapshot from the point that would beat a returning Dakota Lund-Cornish for his eleventh of the season.
Bobby Dow would join in on the scoring action for Sherbrooke to make the game 6-1 before the Islanders put the pressure on their opponent. Thomas Casey and Lukas Cormier would score back-to-back goals within minutes of each other midway through the period to get the Islanders to within three. As the period wore down Jim Hulton began looking for opportunities to help his team inch closer; he pulled Welsh with just over five minutes left in the game to get a 6-on-5 man advantage.
The calculated risk would work; Brett Budgell would pot his 17th of the season late to pull the Islanders within 2. Unfortunately, that’s as close as they’d come, as the Phoenix shut the door to hold on for the victory.
Nikita Alexandrov continued his hot streak as of late with a pair of assists, giving him 10 points in his last 5 games. Cormier’s goal gave him ten on the season, pulling him in to first among all rookie defensemen in that category.
The Islanders are back on the ice Wednesday night in Halifax as they take on the Mooseheads at the Scotiabank Centre. The Isles are at home next on Friday, February 8th when they take on the returning Pierre-Olivier Joseph and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Tickets for that game can be purchased at the Eastlink Centre box office, by phone at 902-629-6625, or online at https://boxoffice.eastlinkcentrepei.com.