CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – There’s no easing back into things for the Charlottetown Islanders.
After road games against two of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s top-five teams, the Isles get another one tonight when they host the Drummondville Voltigeurs at 7 p.m.
Charlottetown head coach Jim Hulton said the Voltigeurs are built similarly to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Quebec Remparts, who the Islanders saw last weekend in Quebec.
“Upfront, they’ve some guys that can do some damage and some young players playing really well,” he said. “Against these speed teams, we have to stack the neutral zone and slow them down and not try to get into a track meet.”
One of the Islanders (17-10-1-0) keys to success this season has been their forecheck and it will need to be good again tonight, pressuring the Drummondville D and forcing turnovers. The team also wants to keep improving its play in its own zone, despite having allowed the fifth fewest goals in the league.
“We’re definitely a high-pressure team and we’re definitely going to have to stick to our system to win games,” said Sam King, who has formed a strong line this season with Nikita Alexandrov and Sullivan Sparkes. “D zone is a big, big part of it, and we just want to close off plays and give those talented teams no space.”
The Islanders were back on the Eastlink Centre ice Wednesday morning after a couple of days off. Hulton stopped practice a couple of times to explain things to his charges and kept them on target as they went through their drills.
“Traditionally, the first game back after a trip can be a bit of a trap game . . . and we don't want that to happen,” Hulton said, noting there are only five games remaining before the Christmas break. “We want to get greedy and keep pushing the pedal here.”
Drummondville played in Saint John, N.B., on Wednesday night.
News and notes
A look at some Charlottetown Islanders news:
– Defenceman Noah Massie is dealing with a hip-pointer injury and is unlikely to play tonight.
– Defenceman Dominic Hachey played two games during the last week’s road trip in Quebec and returned to Edmundston of the Maritime Hockey League.
“There are definite signs of improvement,” Hulton said. “He definitely looks like he has more confidence, a little bit more assertive, so the year is serving him well.”
– Defenceman Taylor Egan (shoulder) is improving but is unlikely to play this week.
– Defencemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Saku Vesterinen did not make the Canadian and Finish camp rosters for the world junior tournament. The tournament is traditionally dominated by 19-year-old players and Joseph and Vesterinen are both 18.
– Hulton will miss Saturday’s home game with the Gatineau Olympiques to attend a midget tournament in Gatineau, Que. It is where trade talks heated up last season. The league’s trade period runs from Dec. 18 to Jan. 6.