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Islanders host QMJHL's best Armada tonight

The Charlottetown Islanders practised Wednesday in preparation for today's game with the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
The Charlottetown Islanders practised Jan. 31 in preparation for a game with the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders look to right the ship tonight.

Three days after a 30-minute discussion following a 6-2 loss to the Halifax Mooseheads on home ice, the Isles host the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League-leading Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.

“We’ve had two really good days of practice,” Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said Thursday night. “I think the message was received, the internal message, not necessarily my words to them, but their words to themselves.

“They’ve worked really hard. I think they earned the right to go out and have a good game tomorrow night.”

The Islanders (28-19-4-0) have nine games remaining in February and 17 in the regular season.

“It’s a busy time of year, and you just have to roll with the punches. Yesterday is behind us, and tomorrow is ahead of us,” Hulton said.

It’s a rematch of last year’s semifinal, where the Armada won four straight times to eliminate the Islanders in five games. Hulton said it’s not much of an issue with both teams dealing with turnover on their roster.

The Armada has a number of key players back from last year’s squad, led by the league’s top scorers in Alex Barre-Boulet and Alexandre Alain. They also bolstered their scoring punch by adding Drake Batherson from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles after he helped Canada win gold at the world junior championship.

The Armada (37-9-3-2) is one of three teams to have clinched a playoff spot.

“It typifies what our season has been all about,” Hulton said. “We’re the underdog going into the game by quite a longshot and we want to prove people wrong.

“We have a ton of respect for this team, but we want to make sure we go out and outwork them.”

Matthew Welsh gets the start in the Islanders crease while rookie Dakota Lund-Cornish is slated to play Saturday’s matinee with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens part of Hockey Day in P.E.I.

Defenceman Brendon Clavelle (shoulder) is progressing but is expected to be out another week or 10 days.

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