It’s back to business for the P.E.I. Rocket.
The distraction of trades officially ended Tuesday and the Rocket players, who competed internationally during the Christmas holidays, have all rejoined the team. Matej Beran and Tomas Pavelka were flying into Charlottetown Wednesday night after playing for the Czech Republic at the world junior championship.
“Everyone can kind of breathe now and relax a bit more knowing the trades are over and they’re safe,” said Rocket forward Ben Duffy. “Now we can focus on the team and playing hockey.”
His name has been bandied about in rumors for years. Duffy said this season is the strongest Rocket team he has played for and he is glad to be able to end his career with the team that drafted him in 2008.
“It’s pretty cool,” said the fifth-year Rocket, who owns many of the team’s records. “I don’t think many people get the opportunity to play with one team their whole career.”
The Rocket hosts the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada tonight at 7. It is the first game of three in as many days.
The team will be back to full strength with the exception of Matt Bursey, who will serve the last of his six-game suspension for a Dec. 19 incident in Moncton.
Duffy’s consecutive game streak continues at 306, despite taking a shot to the face Saturday in Saint John, N.B. While it hurts to smile and laugh, he is soldiering on with a cage.
“It’s a tough part of the year,” he said. “Every point counts. Every win matters now. I think the team needs me.”
Troy Vance, who was acquired Monday in a trade with Victoriaville, joined the Rocket for Wednesday’s practice.
“It was tough because I had a lot of good buddies on the team,” he said.
But the 19-year-old Colmar, Pa., native is looking forward to suiting up with the Rocket.
“I know they’re going to make a run for the playoffs. I’m looking forward to helping out in anyway I can,” he said.
Vance describes himself as a good two-way, puck-moving defenceman.
“I like to jump into the rush when I can, but defence comes first,” he said.
Alexis Pepin rejoined the team earlier this week after playing in the world under-17 hockey challenge. He had three goals and four assists in six games for Quebec to finish second in team scoring. He hopes to parlay the tournament performance into a strong second half with the Rocket.
“I have to keep on this pace,” the 16-year-old rookie said. “I feel better every game, every practice.”
Antoine Bibeau gets the start tonight in the Rocket goal.
P.E.I. Rocket vs.
u When - Tonight.
u Where - Civic Centre.
u Game Time - 7 p.m.
u Records - Rocket: 23-15-2, ninth overall;
Armada: 24-11-1-4, third overall (West Division leaders).
u Past 10 - Rocket: 6-4; Armada: 3-5-0-2
u Top Scorer - Rocket: Josh Currie, 33 goals, 34 assists in 40 games to lead the league; Armada: Cédric Paquette, 15 goals, 34 assists in 38 games.
u Top Goalie - Rocket: Antoine Bibeau, 14-7-1, 2.70 GAA.; Armada: Etienne Marcoux, 14-4-0-1, 2.00 GAA to lead the league.
Ashley named first
star in QMJHL game
BATHURST, N.B. — Darcy Ashley of Brooklyn recorded four points for the Halifax Mooseheads and was named the first star of a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Wednesday night.
Ashley had a goal and three assists. He now has 13 goals this season.
Canadian Hockey League top 10 rankings for Week 16 (last week's ranking in brackets):
1. Halifax Mooseheads, 32-4-2-1 (1)
2. London Knights, 34-5-1-2 (2)
3. Portland Winterhawks, 34-5-1-0 (3)
4. Kamloops Blazers, 28-10-2-2 (5)
5. Kelowna Rockets, 29-10-1-1 (8)
6. Owen Sound Attack, 25-11-1-2 (4)
7. Edmonton Oil Kings, 27-9-2-3 (6)
8. Baie-Comeau Drakkar, 27-11-1-2 (not ranked)
9. Rimouski Oceanic, 26-11-1-4 (7)
10. Barrie Colts, 26-12-0-1 (10)
on top in CHL rankings
TORONTO — The Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League continue to be the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
Darcy Ashley of Brooklyn and Brent Andrews of Hunter River play with the Mooseheads.
The QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic is ranked ninth. Defenceman Ryan MacKinnon of Summerside plays for Rimouski.
The CHL is comprised of the QMJHL, Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League.