© Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian
Alexis Pépin of the Charlottetown Islanders lines up a hit during second period action Friday at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
The Charlottetown Islanders answered the bell early, but were unable to hold a third period lead for the third straight game Friday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
This time it resulted in 4-3 shootout loss to the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Islanders led 2-0 and 3-2 after the first two periods.
“It seems in every game so far we’ve had one period out of the three (where) we have breakdowns in and not enough push back and it shows at the end of the game,” assistant captain Troy Vance said. “We did get a point, but we had two points and we let it go.”
He said attention to detail has to improve.
The Islanders have now lost four straight games to fall to 10-5-0-2 while the Phoenix improved to 7-11-1-1. Jean-Francois Plante scored the lone goal of the shootout.
The game had a rough start with four fights in the first period.
The finale saw Islanders newcomer Mike DiPaolo drop the mitts with Phoenix heavyweight Mathieu Laverdue, who leads the league in majors and penalty minutes.
DiPaolo said he felt the team need a “little buzz” and he wanted to get the crowd into it while keeping the momentum on the Islanders side.
“Off the draw, he came up to me and offered to go, so I accepted,” DiPaolo explained. “I . . . threw some bombs and, luckily, I got him with one.”
The Eastlink Centre crowd let him know it appreciated the tilt.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be like that every fight, I’m certainly new,” he said, but “that’s a warm welcome.”
The game also saw rookie Daniel Sprong take over the team lead in points with his first three-point game in the QMJHL.
“I couldn’t have done it on my own,” he said.
“(Matej) Beran, (Kameron) Kielly, whoever was playing on D behind me was moving the puck well. When we had an opportunity to score, we scored.”
After assisting on the first two goals, Sprong scored a highlight-reel marker five minutes into the second.
“Matej gave me a great cross-ice pass,” Sprong said.
After taking the pass from Beran, the Phoenix defenceman gave the rookie with the sick hands space and Sprong did the rest. He excited the home side with a stickhandling display, bringing the puck through the blue-liner's skates before sniping his 10th goal of the season.
“It was a pretty lucky goal,” said Sprong, who has 19 points in 17 games, one point more than captain Jack Nevins.
The players don’t have much time to think about Friday’s game, Charlottetown is in New Brunswick this weekend for a pair of games. The Islanders play the Saint John Sea Dogs (5-11-0-2) tonight at 7 p.m. and the Moncton Wildcats (8-11-0-1) Sunday at 4 p.m.
Moncton beat Saint John 6-2 on Friday.
The Islanders are now a quarter of the way through the 68-game schedule. A glance at last year’s record at this point showed the then P.E.I. Rocket was one point better with a 11-5-1-0 record and on the way to its best season in the franchise’s 10 seasons on the Island.
Sherbrooke – 4 SO
Charlottetown – 3
Sherbrooke – Simon Desbiens (2), Jean-Christophe Laflamme
Charlottetown – Bradley Kennedy, Matej Beran, Daniel Sprong
Sherbrooke – Simon Desbiens, Dominic Talbot-Tassi, Chase Harwell
Charlottetown – Daniel Sprong (2), Matej Beran (2), Kevin Laliberte
Sherbrooke – Francis Desrosiers, 35 saves on 38 shots
Charlottetown – Antoine Bibeau, 36 saves on 39 shots
Sherbrooke – 0-for-1
Charlottetown – 1-for-3
1. Daniel Sprong
2. Simon Desbiens
3. Jack Nevins
Announced attendance – 2,754.