By Drake Lowthers
March 4, 2015
The Charlottetown Islanders lost their fourth-straight Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game falling to the Moncton Wildcats 5-4 in a five-round shootout in front of approximately 2,000 people at the Eastlink Centre March 2.
Despite the loss the Islanders picked up a big point in the standings. The Islanders, with a 28-27-1-4 record, are fourth in the Maritimes Division with 61 points, one point ahead of Cape Breton and three points behind Halifax.
Daniel Sprong scored two goals and one assist for the Islanders while Noah Zilbert scored two goals and two assists for the Wildcats. Ivan Barbashev scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.
“It was a tough loss,” said Sprong. “Of course you want to get the win. It’s a big point for us to go higher in the standings.”
Summerside Western Capital call-up Kyler Carter recorded one shot during his QMJHL debut in the loss.
“It was nice to get that first game out of the way.”
Carter said he was a little bit nervous before suiting up for the Islanders.
“After my first couple of shifts I got used to the game and the level and fit right in.”
The biggest transition was the speed of the game, he said.
“There’s a lot more speed on the ice, there’s guys that have so much more jump.”
The Wildcats scored six minutes into the first period with a goal coming off the stick of Noah Zilbert. The Islanders tied the game three-minutes later when Sprong scored his 30th goal of the season. Sprong was sent on a breakaway after receiving a long stretch-pass from Ryan MacKinnon and was able to score glove-side on Wildcat goaltender Alex Dubeau.
At the 16-minute mark Zilbert scored his second goal of the period redirecting a shot through Mason MacDonald’s pads giving the Wildcats the lead.
Six minutes into the second period Bronson Beaton took a holding penalty sending the Islanders to a powerplay, which they took complete advantage of. Only six-seconds into the man advantage Alexandre Goulet scored off a rebound, recording his 31st goal of the season.
The Wildcats regained the lead halfway through the second period when Taylor Burke quickly snapped a shot past a stretched-out MacDonald.
The Islanders and Wildcats exchanged chances early on in the third period.
Eight-minutes into the third Goulet and Sprong worked a little offensive magic using a give-and-go and Sprong scored his 31st goal of the season and second of the night.
“We had a good cycle going that’s part of our strengths,” said Sprong. “Goulet threw me a good pass in front and I put it in.”
The Islanders took their first lead of the game 31 seconds later when Ross Johnston outworked the Wildcat defence and snuck the puck behind a sprawling Dubeau scoring his 12th goal of the season.
“I’ve been playing with some great line mates and I guess the bounces have been going my way.”
While on a late game power play the Islanders tried to put the game out of reach. Filip Chlapik carried the puck into the offensive zone, when all of a sudden the puck got tied up in the linesman’s skates at the Wildcat blue line. The turnover resulted in Burke scoring his second goal of the night and sending the game into overtime.
In the extra frame the play went back-and-forth with the Islanders having the best scoring opportunity narrowly missing a cross-crease play.
Goulet and Kameron Kielly scored for the Islanders in the shootout, and Conor Garland, Beaton and Barbashev scored for the Wildcats.
The Islanders managed to keep the league’s leading scorer off the score sheet during regulation. In 61 games this season Garland has tallied 29 goals and 82 assists for a total of 111 points.
After successfully killing off two penalties in the game the Islanders sit sixth overall in the QMJHL with a penalty kill percentage of 79.4 per cent.
The Islanders haven’t faired too well this season when a game goes into a shootout. In six attempts the Islanders have only managed to walk away with two wins. The 33 per cent rate has the Islanders sitting third-last in the QMJHL shootout standings. The Wildcats have had different results from games going into shootouts. Seven shootout wins coming from 10 attempts this season has the Wildcats sitting first in the QMJHL standings for shootout wins with a 70 per cent success rate.
The Islanders travel to Nova Scotia this week for two important divisional games against Cape Breton on Wednesday and Halifax on Friday.