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Islanders refused to quit


Charlottetown record nearly identical before trio of big trades as after

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The whispers started with the first trade and intensified as the Charlottetown Islanders moved three of their veteran leaders in December.

Charlottetown Islanders head coach Jim Hulton talks to his players on the bench during Wednesday's practice.
Charlottetown Islanders head coach Jim Hulton talks to his players on the bench during Wednesday's practice.

Why would a franchise sell key assets with a team right in contention?

The coaching staff instilled a belief in the club, and it kept winning.

“Once the dust kind of settled, we kind of realized this is our group and we’re going to do what we can,” defenceman Hunter Drew said. “I think we’re just getting started on a pretty long run.”

The Islanders, who start the playoff Friday on home ice, traded three key players in the 10-day period.

The last one became official Dec. 27 when the Isles shipped captain Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph to Drummonvilld for NHL-drafted defenceman Xavier Bernard, prospect William Trudeau, a first- and two second-round picks.

The Islanders were 20-10-2-1 at the time. They went 20-11-2-2 since Dec. 27.

“It’s a credit to our guys that are in that room that they didn't let that be an excuse to let the season fade away,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.

Charlottetown had previously traded fifth-year veteran Keith Getson, a Bridgewater, N.S., native, to Halifax for Memorial Cup champion Jordan Maher as well as second- and third-round picks and flipped 19-year-old Derek Gentile to his hometown Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for defenceman Noah Laaouan, who recently turned 18.

“It was an educated decision, but we brought in some good hockey players,” Hulton said, noting the message to the players was of upping their standard, not lowering them.

“We couldn't set back and just accept being a lesser team,” added goalie Matthew Welsh. “We wanted to continue to be a good team and win games. To hit that 40-win mark this season was huge for us and we're all really proud of ourselves.”

A glimpse into the identity of this year’s squad is similar to last year’s team that went to the semifinal. It includes being resilient with a high compete level and a belief in each other.

“We’re hoping that it starts to be the identity when they pull that sweater on (regardless) who is pulling the sweater on,” Hulton said.

RELATED LINKS

Mooseheads acquire Bridgewater's Getson from Islanders

Charlottetown Islanders trade P.O. Joseph to Drummondville

Islanders trade veteran forward to Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

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