Josh Currie staked his team to an early 2-0 lead and the P.E.I. Rocket didn’t let up, defeating the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 5-2 Thursday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
It is the second division leader the Rocket has knocked off in as many games, following Sunday’s victory over Halifax.
“For us to come out and beat them the way we did, I think that just shows the league we’re a top team as well,” Currie said.
“I think it shows we’re ready to make that step and really start to push teams and show them we’re a contending team.”
The game had a bit of everything: scoring, big hits, three tilts, a slew of big-time saves and a vocal crowd.
Currie’s goals both came after he blew past a defender and beat Etienne Marcoux with a wrist shot. The first was the captain's league-leading eighth short-handed goal of the season and the second came just as time expired in the first period.
The early lead was critical against the league’s second stingiest team.
“We know if you get down against a team like that . . . they can trap you out pretty good,” Currie said. The second goal “sort of gave us the momentum.”
Alexis Pépin capitalized on a turnover three minutes into the second period to give the home side a commanding lead. Two minutes later Louick Marcotte and Cédric Paquette took roughing penalties.
After serving their time Marcotte slashed Paquette on the back of the skate and was sent back to the sin bin. The Rocket went down two men as coach Gordie Dwyer let the official know what he thought of the call.
“It was a bad penalty for my part. I wanted to go, but this guy didn’t want to go,” Marcotte said. “I should have stopped after the first time I asked him, but sometime the emotions are high.”
The Rocket killed the two-man advantage with Currie and Deverick Ottereyes doing yeoman’s work as the forwards on the kill.
“That was huge,” Currie said. “Going five-on-three against that team that was, obviously, sort of a turning point.”
"It was a bad penalty for my part. I wanted to go, but this guy didn’t want to go. I should have stopped after the first time I asked him, but sometime the emotions are high." - Louick Marcotte, Rocket winger about slashing penalty in second period
Currie said Ottereyes, who started the season on the fourth line, has been a big component of the team.
“He’s been lights out,” he said. “To put him in a situation like that, and for him to perform the way he did, it shows a lot about his development.
“It’s huge for us to have guys like that step up.”
Ottereyes was named the team’s hardest-working player after the game.
“I try to model my game after that, make sure I work hard every night,” he said.
One of the night’s loudest applause can when Rocket defenceman Ryan Graves drilled Danick Martel at centre ice with a clean check.
Antoine Bibeau was in the right position all night and made several keys saves, including one with his blocker with 30 seconds to go. Moments later Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye rang through the Civic Centre.
“He was outstanding tonight,” Marcotte said. “He was just on his game.”
It is the first time the Rocket has defeated the Armada since it moved from Montreal in 2011. Blainville-Boisbriand had won the first six meetings.
The win also allowed the Rocket to leapfrog Moncton in the division standings. They are second in the Maritime division and seventh overall.
It was the first of three games in as many days for the Rocket. Marcotte said they have to turn the page quickly.
“That’s part of hockey,” he said. “It’s a nice win today, but we have to forget it and get back on track tomorrow.”
The Rocket (24-15-2) hosts the Gatineau Olympics Friday.
It will be forward Kelly Bent’s first game against his former club since being traded for defenceman Anthony Cortese in Decemeber. Bent has a goal and 16 penalty minutes in five games with Gatineau.
Charlottetown’s Kameron Kielly will also be in the Gatineau lineup. The rookie right-winger has a goal and two assists in 35 games.
The Armada (24-12-1-4) go to Halifax to play the Mooseheads.
Both are 7 p.m. starts.