The P.E.I. Rocket scored three times in four minutes in the first period and cruised to a 6-2 victory over the basement-dwelling Shawinigan Cataractes Thursday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
The Rocket players know they must be better tonight against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
“We played great in the first period,” said defenceman Jimmy Oligny. “As soon as we got the lead, we slowed down.”
The Rocket held a 4-0 lead after one but played soft defensively and against better competition would have paid the price.
“Tomorrow is a lot better team,” Oligny said after the game. “If we play like that in our zone . . . we’re going to get beat, for sure.”
The Rocket scored five of their six goals on special teams, including going 4-for-6 on the power play.
Oligny and Victor Provencher each had two goals with the man advantage while Matthew Bursey scored a short-handed marker.
“We won on the power play, but in our zone we got to be better,” said right-winger Patrick McGrath.
The Rocket improved to 11-5-1 while the defending Memorial Cup champion Cataractes dropped to 2-12-1-1. The Armada is fourth in the league at 12-3-0-2, three points ahead of the Rocket. Game time is 7 p.m. tonight.
“If we want to be a contender we’re going to have to beat those top teams,” McGrath said.
The Shavertown, PA native recorded his league-leading 10th major penalty of the season at 5:42 of the first when he dropped the mitts with Vincent Arseneau. He has twice as many majors as the next players in the league, including his teammate Provencher.
Despite giving up four inches to his opponent, McGrath won Thursday’s scrap and energized the team, as Bursey scored a minute later on a nice pass from captain Josh Currie.
“I’ve been the smaller guy in most of my fights before, so it really wasn’t a big deal for me,” he said. “I am just doing whatever it takes to make sure our team gets the win.”
Currie had four assists on the night and is now tied for second in league scoring with 33 points, one back of Rouyn-Noranda's Jean-Sebastien Dea.
Summerside’s Chase Gaudet replaced Marvin Cupper in the Shawinigan crease to start the second. He said it was fun to get into the game with friends and family in the stands in a rink he grew up in.
“I won and lost a lot of games here, so it was definitely a great memory to play here again,” he said.
The 18-year-old was pleased with his performance as the teams tied 2-2 in the final 40 minutes of play.
“When you’re down, you just want to come in and still give them a chance to win,” he said. “I thought we did that.”
He creditted the play of his teammates in front of him for making that possible.
After playing junior A in Yarmouth last year, he said he’s enjoyed the transition to the next level and added Shawinigan has great fans and is a great organization to play for.
“It’s been a fun first year in the Q so far,” he said.
P.E.I. Rocket – 6
Shawinigan Cataractes – 2
P.E.I. Rocket – Jimmy Oligny (2), Victor Provencher (2), Matthew Bursey and Alexis Pépin.
Shawinigan Cataractes – Felix-Antoine Bergeron and Jean-Christophe Houde.
P.E.I. Rocket – Josh Currie (4), Ben Duffy (3) and Alexandre Chenier-Allard (2).
Shawinigan Cataractes – Felix-Antoine Bergeron, Alexandre Grandmaison, Olivier Jodoin and Raphael Maheux.
P.E.I. Rocket – Antoine Bibeau, 35 saves on 37 shots.
Shawinigan Cataractes – Marvin Cupper, 11 saves on 15 shots; Chase Gaudet, 21 saves on 23 shots.
Attendance – 1,421 (announced).
1. Josh Currie
2. Ben Duffy
3. Jimmy Oligny
Up next: The Rocket (11-5-1) host Blainville-Boisbriand (12-3-0-2) tonight at 7 p.m. Tonight is War Veteran’s Night and the first 1,000 fans will receive a cap from Kewl Sports Apparel.