Hockey fans, the season of excitement is upon us, it’s the playoffs. It’s been a long haul and took an extra month to fit in the full season, but even as condensed as the regular season schedule was, the real grind is just beginning. With a second place overall standing, you’d think the Islanders would have an easier road to take in the post-season. Though this year, with the first three rounds being just a best-of-five, no team will be an easy opponent to put away. The Isles first-round opponent, the Moncton Wildcats, entered the Eastlink Centre this evening to kick things off at 7 pm. Charlottetown would be tasked with protecting the bridge early in the post-season against their familiar and pesky Maritime foes. It’s the 2022 President Cup playoffs ladies and gentlemen, and the journey began with a bang.
The Islanders didn’t take long to announce their offensive presence in this bout as Zachary Roy potted the game opener just ten seconds in. Off the opening draw, Xavier Simoneau and Zachary Roy broke in fast on a 2-on-1, and just before the crease, Simoneau slid a pass across to Roy who snapped the one-timer past a sprawling Lemieux. Simoneau and Lukas Cormier were the helping hands on the ice breaker that got the Eastlink Centre rocking early. Next up, it was William Trudeau loading up the cannon at 6:50 into the frame. Trudeau unleashed a clapper from the point and it found a clear lane eventually beating Lemieux midway up the blocker side. The apples were credited to Patrick Guay and Dawson Stairs. Then, at 14:34 into the first, the Islanders lethal powerplay went to work. Brett Budgell cleaned up a rebound off of Lemieux and tucked it into the right side of the net with the backhand, not even giving Lemieux enough time to get up off his rear. Xavier Simoneau and Jakub Brabenec were the helping hands.
To cap off the Isles big first period, it was star D-man Lukas Cormier sniping a wrist shot over the glove of Lemieux going top cheddar for the Isles fourth of the period. With just seven seconds left on the clock, Jaxon Bellamy was able to stuff the puck across the goal-line through what was a heavy scramble around Lappena. After a lengthy review, it was deemed to stand as a good goal to get the Cats’ on the board before the break. Alexis Daniel and Nicolas Pavan picked up the apples.
Shots were tied at 13 through twenty minutes.
Things were pretty docile in the second frame scoring whys as each team’s offense seemed to take their foot off the gas just a bit. It left room for the more physical style of play to come out though as both squads were taking runs at the other through the frame and there were plenty of after whistle shenanigans. It was nice to see the Isles with a bit more grit though as their physicality is something that has lacked on the ice since Ben Boyd went down. Then again though, the playoffs are a different type of hockey so maybe Jim was hyping up the importance of a mean and tough team. Both tendies stopped all the shots they faced in the second period keeping us ahead 4-1 after forty minutes of play.
The Isles remained in the lead for shots at 23-18.
The third period was a perfect mix of the first two frames, the offensive side of the game picked back up without sacrificing much of the physical play. The scoring got back underway at 4:17 into the final frame when the league’s second-best goal scorer this season got his first of the post-season. Patrick Guay sent a hot wrister past the glove of a screened Lemieux on the Isles powerplay to put us up 5-1. The assists went to Lukas Cormier and Xavier Simoneau. Just 23 seconds later, the Wildcats answered back when Yoan Loshing took advantage of a turnover and sent a slick wrister just over the glove of Lappena to make it 5-2.
Then, just under five minutes later, the Islanders restored their four-goal lead when Oscar Plandowski loaded up a slapshot and found the perfect hole through traffic and past Lemieux before he could even see it coming. Patrick Guay was the lone assist. The night couldn’t have gone much worse score whys for the Wildcats you would think, that was until they put the puck in the net, sorry, their own net. Jakub Brabenec lost control of the puck just in front of the net and as the Wildcats defender went to clear it, he ended up just sweeping it past his own tendy for an own goal. Brabenec was credited with his first goal of the playoffs on the play, the powerplay goal was also assisted by Brett Budgell and Patrick Guay. That marker capped off the scoring as the Islanders took game one in commanding fashion winning 7-2.
Final shots were 39-23 for the Islanders.
“Anything that works feels good on the ice. Every time you contribute whether a goal, hit, or just take the puck out of your zone it’s a good feeling. All that put together it’s a fun night.” Patrick Guay said how it felt being more of a playmaker than a goal scorer tonight.
Three Stars of the Game:
- Lukas Cormier(CHA)- One goal and two assists.
- Xavier Simoneau(CHA)- Three assists.
- Patrick Guay(CHA)- One goal and three assists.
“Felt good, the guys played a great game. Obviously, it helps when you score early you gain a lot of momentum. The fans were awesome, they gave us a lot of energy so it felt good.” Franky Lappena on how he felt through sixty minutes between the pipes tonight.
The Islanders couldn’t have drawn up a way to start this series much better. They continued to show off their exceptional offensive talent while also bringing out a more physical style of play which we haven’t seen a great deal of since Ben Boyd went down. The Eastlink Centre was thrilled to once again have playoff hockey back in Charlottetown and even as the Isles leads grew, the cheers didn’t get any quieter whether it was goal two or gino number seven. Now, the Islanders will keep the smile on their faces for the rest of the night before going over the tape in the morning ahead of game two. Playoff hockey is alive and well in Charlottetown’s barn folks, don’t miss out on what is going to be an exciting post-season.
“I think you just want to start off on the right foot, I think anytime a playoff series starts and you have home ice advantage you want to get the first one out of the way. One of our goals was to be on attack mode off the hop and when you have special players they do special things. The first period was a statement period and I thought our structure got better as the game went on.” Jim Hulton on if he thought game one was a statement win.
GO Isles GO!