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Charlottetown Islanders learn they can’t have let ups during road trip

Jim Hulton is the head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders.
Jim Hulton is the head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The Charlottetown Islanders have been inconsistent early in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season.

“The road trip kind of exemplified that,” head coach Jim Hulton said before Tuesday’s practice. “The message is pretty clear that you have to earn it over the body of 60 minutes.”

The squad went 1-3-0-0 during the trip, which saw them play against some of the league’s top teams.

They play two good periods in Cape Breton before having a drop off. They start slowly in Rimouski, Que., but rebounded to finish well in the final two periods. They had a good opening period in Baie-Comeau, Que., before the game got away from them in the second period.

They put a strong 65 minutes together in Chicoutimi to come home with a shootout win.

“Our confidence was restored a bit with the win in Chicoutimi,” Hulton said.

“We’ve faced some adversity early on, which is good for us in the big picture.”

The Islanders (3-4-1-0) are home tonight to host the Memorial Cup-hosting Halifax Mooseheads (5-2-0-0) at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre. They travel to Bathurst, N.B., Friday to play the Titan before hosting the Saint John Sea Dogs Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Islanders will get Hunter Drew back tonight after the overage defenceman served the final of his five-game suspension he received for a hit to the head seven minutes into his first game of the season on Sept. 26.

Tonight could be the first time this season the Islanders have their full lineup available.

“Hunter does a lot (for us),” the head coach said. “He gives us our swagger back. He makes everybody a little bit bigger and makes the other teams back off a little bit.”

Hulton said he wants Drew to keep playing his game, but keeping in mind situations of games like time, opponent and score. He sees it similar to the situation a year ago when overage forward Pascal Aquin received an eight-game suspension for a hit in the second to last game of the pre-season.

“(Drew) has to find that comfort zone of being intense but not crossing the line,” Hulton said. “We don't want to take edge out of him because that edge is what makes him special.”

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