Series Preview | vs. Quebec Remparts
After a gruelling 68-game season, the quest for the Gilles Courteau Trophy begins this week as the 2023 QMJHL Playoffs kick off on Friday. For the Charlottetown Islanders, they will play the role of David in a proverbial matchup against their Goliath, the regular season champion Quebec Remparts.
The Islanders (26-33-6-3) find themselves in unfamiliar playoff territory after two straight seasons as top contenders for the QMJHL’s top prize. This year, Charlottetown assumes the position as underdog against one of the strongest teams in the league. They come into the playoffs having faltered down the final stretch of the season, winners of just two games in their previous ten. Despite that, the slate gets wiped clean for the playoffs and all that will matter is the best-of-seven series ahead of them.
The Remparts (53-12-1-2) secured their second straight regular season championship thanks in large part to an eight-game winning streak to end their season. They’re looking to erase the bitter taste of the 2022 President Cup semi-finals, where they fell to the eventual champion Shawinigan Cataractes in Game 5 of the best-of-five series.
The Islanders and Remparts met twice this season, with the Remparts taking the win both times. Charlottetown kept the first game at home within distance before Quebec eventually pulled away for a decisive 7-1 victory.
In their second matchup at the Videotron Centre, Islanders goaltender Jakob Robillard put the league on notice that he was a premiere netminder with a 46-save performance, while rookie Isaac Vos picked up his first career QMJHL goal. The Isles would play strong defensive hockey the rest of the game before the Remparts eventually took a 2-1 overtime victory.
2018: The Islanders surprised everyone with their regular season, finishing ninth overall in the QMJHL and meeting the eighth place Remparts in a first-round matchup. Predicted by many media members to be a decisive Quebec victory, the Islanders pulled out a dramatic seven-game series victory, highlighted by a Pascal Aquin hat trick in a Game 7 8-3 victory.
2015: Led by future NHLer’s Daniel Sprong and Ross Johnston and fuelled by a Spenser Cobbold series-clinching overtime winner in the first round against the Sherbrooke Phoenix, the Islanders met a high-powered Remparts team in the second round of the playoffs. The Remparts, led by high-end NHL prospects Adam Erne, Anthony Duclair, former Islander Ryan Graves, and Memorial Cup champion Zachary Fucale, would defeat the Islanders in four straight games en route to the President Cup Finals.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jérémie Biakabutuka: The 20-year-old defenseman will need to hit another level in the playoffs for Charlottetown to have success after a career regular season that saw him find the back of the net 17 times in 56 games. Biakabutuka will undoubtedly shoulder a heavy workload throughout the series.
Jakob Robillard: The man between the pipes has been sterling for Charlottetown after arriving in town. Robillard posted a .908 save percentage in 26 games with the Islanders and picking up 13 victories in the process, giving him a winning percentage over .500.
Zachary Bolduc: The St. Louis Blues prospect followed up an impressive 2022 season with more points in less games in 2023. Bolduc sat fourth overall in QMJHL scoring with 110 points in just 61 games.
Theo Rochette: Right behind Bolduc in scoring is the 20-year-old Rochette. The Swiss-born Quebecois forward recorded 42 goals and 106 points on the season, good for sixth overall in the QMJHL. His 64 assists were good for fourth among all players.
WATCH AND LISTEN
All Charlottetown Islanders playoff action can be heard live on Max 93.1 with George Matthews and Cory Arsenault! Listen along online HERE.
Online video stream
All Islanders playoff games are available on CHL TV. CHL TV is available to fans worldwide, providing high-quality streaming of QMJHL games on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV platforms, via mobile with iOS and Android, and on web using Safari or Google Chrome web browsers. Visit watch.chl.ca for complete details and subscription options.
Single-game playoff tickets for Games 3 and 4 are still available at the Eastlink Centre box office, by phone at 902-629-6625, or online by clicking HERE.