As the temperature cools the hockey action gets hotter, as the Charlottetown Islanders venture just across the bridge to visit their rival Moncton Wildcats for the second time this season.
The two teams are neck-and-neck in the Maritime Division standings, with the Islanders (12-6-3-0) sitting just three points back of the Wildcats (15-4-0-0) for first in the Eastern Conference, although the Wildcats have two games in hand. The Isles took the high ground in the last matchup between these two teams, a 5-3 victory in Moncton back on September 29th. Five players recorded multi-point games for the Islanders, including Nikita Alexandrov and William Trudeau, who scored his first career QMJHL goal. Jacob Goobie earned his first career QMJHL victory in that game.
Since then, the make-up of the two teams has shifted drastically, and for two different reasons. The Islanders have been battling injury problems as of late with two of the team’s top players, Alexandrov and Lukas Cormier, both slated to miss tonight’s game. The injury news isn’t all bad however, as Thomas Casey is close to a return from an upper-body injury, and may even be in the line-up tonight.
Moncton, meanwhile, received a highly-needed shot in the arm over the past few weeks. A team pegged early on to be a President’s Cup favourite, the Wildcats had two key players returned from the pro ranks, Summerside’s Jeremy McKenna and top CHL Import Draft pick Axel Andersson. The duo have been strong for the Wildcats thus far; McKenna has picked up where he left off last season with 18 points in his first 12 games, while Andersson has recorded 7 assists in 11 games from the point.
One of the big stories for the Wildcats this season has been forward Alexander Khovanov. The Minnesota Wild draft pick has taken his game to another level this season, currently sitting seventh in the QMJHL with 34 points in just 16 games so far. Khovanov, selected by the Wildcats with the 2nd pick of the 2017 CHL Import Draft, has already been named to Team Russia ahead of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship after a breakout performance at the 2020 CIBC Canada-Russia Series.
In Charlottetown, injuries breed opportunity, and Xavier Fortin is one of the player’s making the most of their opportunities with an increased role in the lineup. The 17-year-old forward has looked extremely comfortable alongside the likes of Cedric Desruisseaux and Gaetan Jobin, and he’s closing in on the career high in points he established as a rookie last season.
One player who won’t be in the lineup tonight is Anthony Hamel. The defenseman received a one-game suspension for his actions in Monday’s game against the Gatineau Olympiques which resulted in a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
You can catch the call on a special edition of Fair Isle Ford Isles Radio with George Matthews and team president Craig Foster. The pair will call the game tonight and also talk about the exciting things the Islanders are taking part in off the ice!