CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The door to the Charlottetown Islanders dressing room stayed shut for 30 minutes after a 6-2 loss to the Halifax Mooseheads Tuesday night at the Eastlink Centre.
Not much was said as players left the room after another frustrating effort that resulted in a loss.
“We’ve got to be straight up with each other at this point in time,” assistant captain Keith Getson said. “We’re not playing Islander hockey right now. We all know that, and I’m sure everybody on P.E.I. knows that. I think we just have to get back to basics and back to the way we played in the first half.”
That style included a strong forecheck, playing physical and capitalizing on the chances that playing that way created.
The Islanders earned the admiration of fans and pundits around the league with their play in the first half. They had an underdog mantra and played the league’s elite teams hard.
That didn’t happen on Tuesday.
“We’ve risen up and answered the bell (in the past), but we have Blainville coming in here Friday night and if we don’t wake up for that game, we’re going to get our butts kicked,” Getson said. “We have to . . . look ourselves in the mirror right now.”
The Islanders again came out flat Tuesday, fell behind 7-0 in shots six minutes into the contest, but escaped the first period tied 0-0.
Filip Zadina scored the first of his four goals on the night 2:46 into the second period when his shot hit iron, but bounced off Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh and into the net.
The Isles had a push back and Noah Massie’s shot hit the post, but stayed out.
Zadina scored his second with 6:20 left in the period and Raphael Lavoie, moments after getting cut above the lip, made it 3-0 with 3:42 left in the middle stanza.
It is the second game in a row the Islanders have dug themselves a big hole. They trailed Moncton 4-0 on Saturday before storming back to take the lead, only to lose in overtime.
“It should never take any hockey team to be down 4-0 to wake you up,” Getson said.
Islanders winger Derek Gentile scored 6:47 into the third. Zadina replied two minutes later and Getson answered a minute later.
“It shows you it’s not fatigue,” Getson said of the team’s comeback ability.
“As valiant as that may be, we have to stop patting ourselves on the back for coming up just short on a comeback,” head coach Jim Hulton added. “Quite frankly, that's bullshit.”
He said the closed-door meeting was an opportunity for everyone to have their say and address the issues together, as they have from Day 1.
“The answers are within those four walls,” he said.
“We can’t have the woe is me, that’s crept in here a little bit. The sensitivity level has gone up, the work ethic has gone down, and that's not a very good combination.”
There are 17 games remaining before the playoffs begin.
“Jim uses the analogy of dress rehearsals in the regular season to get ready for the playoffs,” Getson said. “Our dress rehearsals right now have been brutal.”
He said the team will use the next 17 games to get ready and it starts today at practice.
A look at Tuesday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest between the host Charlottetown Islanders and the Halifax Mooseheads.
Halifax – 6.
Charlottetown – 2.
Halifax – Filip Zadina 4, Raphael Lavoie and Jared McIsaac (empty net)
Charlottetown – Derek Gentile and Keith Getson.
Halifax – Otto Somppi 2, Maxime Fortier 2, Ryan Barbosa, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jocktan Chainey.
Charlottetown – Brett Budgell, Pascal Aquin, Derek Gentile
Halifax – Blade Mann-Dixon, 30 saves on 32 shots.
Charlottetown – Matthew Welsh , 34 saves on 39 shots.
Halifax – 1-for-3.
Charlottetown – 0-for-4.
Halifax – 34-23-5-1.
Charlottetown – 28-19-4-0.
Assistant captain Keith Getson: “Everybody knows we’re not the skilled team. The team we were in the first half was a hard-working team and the hardest team to play against in this league. We really have to get back to that mindset and, if we do, I believe we can beat any team in this league.”