CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph is having fun again, and it shows.
The Charlottetown Islanders captain is coming off his best three games of the season during the weekend near his hometown of Chambly, Que.
A lot was expected of the 2017 first-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes as he entered his 19-year-old season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), but he got off to a slower-than-anticipated start after returning from the Coyotes training camp.
“I didn't play as good as I thought I could, and I was kind of disappointed,” Joseph said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think I found a bit of myself last weekend in Montreal.”
Joseph had seven points in the three games and was named to the league’s weekly all-star team.
“He was dominant,” head coach Jim Hulton said. “He got back to the level we anticipate him being at, and need him to be at, to have team success.”
The coaching staff challenged Joseph to be the best player on the ice for the three games in Quebec and this week’s two home games. It is a five-game set before Joseph plays for Team QMJHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia Series Tuesday in Sherbrooke, Que., and Thursday, Nov. 15, in Drummondville, Que. It is also a heavily scouted competition heading into Canada’s world junior selection camp.
“(Hulton) knows how to push me . . . and that’s why I love the coaching staff: they’re always there to support us no matter what,” Joseph said.
This week’s games start tonight against the Maritimes Division-leading Moncton Wildcats (14-3-2-0). Game time is 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.
“It’s another game. I just need to be better than (I was) the last three and keep moving forward,” Joseph said.
While the defenceman elevated his game during the weekend, the Isles saw their seven-game win streak snapped and only won once. They haven’t beaten the league’s top squads this season but get another chance tonight.
“It was a good test, and I think we just have to learn from it,” Joseph said. “It will be fun to bounce back and show the character of our team. Even if we talk the talk, we need to show on the ice what we can do. I think it’s a great test (with) Moncton coming tomorrow.”
Players sometimes feel the pressure to do more in their fourth major junior season, but Joseph said he didn’t feel it externally entering the season.
“I have high expectations,” he said. “I just wanted to come back here and help the team as much as possible and to improve as much as possible.”
Who – The Charlottetown Islanders captain.
Height, weight, position – Six-foot-two, 168-pound defenceman.
Hometown – Chambly, Que.
Acquired – Fifth-round pick (78th overall) in 2015.
NHL – The Arizona Coyotes drafted him in the first round (23rd overall) in 2017.
Season GP G A Pts.
2015-16 48 1 7 8
2016-17 62 6 33 39
2017-18 63 13 33 46
2018-19 16 5 9 14
He knows this is likely his last season in Charlottetown and wants to make it a memorable one after getting to the league semifinal the past two years.
“I just want to have fun every day and improve every day,” he said. “I just want to bring the wins and the championship here” with my teammates.