CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored the equalizer with 15 seconds left in regulation and the top-ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defeated the Charlottetown Islanders 5-4 in a shootout Saturday at the Eastlink Centre.
“We’re disappointed that we couldn’t close the deal with 15 seconds left, but deep down, as a coach, I’m ecstatic,” Islanders bench boss Jim Hulton said. “We proved a point to ourselves, and a lot of other people, that, when we play the game the right way, we can go toe-to-toe with the big dogs. . .
“You never want to pat too many backs after a loss, but that’s a pretty good loss.”
The Islanders held 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-2 leads during the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game.
“One of our keys was controlling the momentum,” Hulton said. “I liked our bounce back every time we gave up the lead.”
Twenty-seven seconds before Harvey-Pinard tied the game, Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh stoned the sniper from the slot.
“You talk about a 10-bell save, I think that was a 15-bell save,” Hulton said. “It was an unbelievable save.”
The Islanders won 39 per cent of the faceoffs and lost a couple late. It’s an area they need to get better at and also one of the areas where they miss Keith Getson. The Bridgewater, N.S., native was traded before Christmas to Halifax for Jordan Maher and draft picks. Maher is playing well in the middle, but it’s the first time he’s played centre long-term since midget.
“We’re going to have to be patient with him in the faceoff circle,” Hulton said.
Alex Beaucage had a pair of goals in the win while Louis-Filip Cote added one. Joel Teasdale and Felix Bibeau each had two assists while Harvey-Pinard, Beaucage and Peter Abbandonato had singles.
Lukas Cormier scored twice for the Islanders while Daniel Hardie and Liam Peyton had singles.
Peyton’s goal came off a Hunter Drew pass that sent him in on goalie Zachary Emond with Summerside native Noah Dobson trying to get back in the play.
Peyton scored his seventh of the season to make it 4-2.
“That was a power move,” Hulton said. “That was a big strong man leaning on . . . a world-class defencemen.”
Drew had three assists while Brett Budgell had two and Maher and Thomas Casey added singles.
Samuel Harvey stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of Emond, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 11 shots in 32:04. Welsh made 28 saves in the Islanders crease.
Tyler Hinam and Felix Bibeau scored in the shootout for Rouyn-Noranda while Daniel Hardie replied for Charlottetown.
The Islanders were 2-for-4 on the power play while the Huskies went 1-for-3.
The attendance was 3,224 and the energized crowd made it not feel like a regular season game during the second weekin January.
“Everything about the game had a playoff feel,” Hulton said.
Rouyn-Noranda improved to a league-leading 34-7-0-1 while Charlottetown is 25-11-2-2.
The Islanders travel to Moncton Sunday for a 4 p.m. game with the Wildcats.