FIDDLER'S FACTS: Lots on the line this weekend for Islanders

Fred MacDonald
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Mason McDonald

The Charlottetown Islanders need a sweep of their games here this weekend if they are to maintain 10th place in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings.

The locals meet Moncton tonight and Saint John Sunday in games that should give us a great indication of where they fit in the big Quebec league picture. Although the Islanders lost two of three games in Quebec last weekend they played very well, as the goals against and shots allowed indicated.

Before Friday's play, the seventh to 12th teams, including Charlottetown, were separated by 10 points, so there's a lot up for grabs for the Islanders with six games to go.

Since Charlottetown has a favorable schedule, home and away with a weak Halifax club and another with Acadia Bathurst, it is very likely they will hold onto 10th or 11th at the worst. If that happens, the Islanders would meet either Cape Breton, Rimouski or possibly Moncton in the opening round of the playoffs, and that's a matchup I am confident Charlottetown can win.

Mason McDonald is providing solid goaltending, the defence has tightened considerably and Charlottetown is getting scoring from all four lines. I think talented forward Dan Sprong is going to break out in the playoffs and that's why I love our team's chances for a long playoff run.

We should get some idea Sunday of what we can expect once the playoffs start but I like what I have seen for the past month or so. Time will tell.

Professional hockey

Team Canada announced a partial lineup of players for the World Cup of Hockey and they surprised a lot of hockey fans by the glaring omission of Montreal Canadians defenceman P.K. Subban.

Habs GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien never have kind words for the colourful standout and I wonder if their continued lack of support played a role in him not being selected. I expect Subban will be added to the Canada's roster down the road but the situation makes for an unhealthy atmosphere in Montreal. Therrien is likely axed at the end of the season and the GM could be on thin ice unless things approve.

The NHL is in the homestretch of its regular season and as it stands today no Canadian team will make the playoffs. It is bad news for Rogers, which purchased the NHL broadcast rights. The ratings are certain to slide, unless David Cameron's Ottawa Senators make a late-season surge for the final playoff spot but it's unlikely.

If there's any good side to the Canadians slide, it's P.E.I.'s Morgan Ellis getting a great look during the 15 or so remaining games. He's coming off a great AHL campaign and I'd suggest he has a better than 50/50 chance of sticking with the Habs next season. Also, it was great to see goaltender Drew MacIntyre land in Chicago where he may get a chance.

Harness racing

Local harness racing is dark right now but there's simulcast racing available from Ontario and USA tracks. Up country, Blair Hansen's Proven Desire was an impressive 1:57:3 winner in the $7,500 preferred last Sunday at Flamboro for driver James MacDonald while the Ron Gass-owned Dusty Lane Arby was an easy winner in the $6,200 class for driver Tyler Moore.

Proven Desire is in to go tonight at Woodbine in the $20,000 class at Woodbine for MacDonald.

Trainer Jonah Moase has sent out winners at both Flamboro and Woodbine and it's great to see local boys doing well. Jason Ryan is back in Canada driving at Flamboro and Woodbine.

Organizations: Islanders, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, NHL Rogers Ottawa Senators Habs

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Moncton, Quebec Canada Saint John Montreal Halifax Cape Breton Chicago Ontario USA

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