The Charlottetown Islanders final home game of the regular season didn't do anything to clear up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff picture.
Summerside’s Jeremy McKenna had the game-winning goal and an assist Friday as the Moncton Wildcats defeated the Charlottetown Islanders 3-2 at the Eastlink Centre during a playoff-like atmosphere before a soldout crowd.
The Islanders (39-21-4-3) remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference heading into the final day of the regular season. Cape Breton (38-22-1-5) is one point back while Moncton (37-21-4-5) and Chicoutimi (38-22-3-4) are each two points back in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round.
Islanders head coach Jim Hulton isn't caught up in where the first-round series starts at this point.
“That’s a playoff game. You dust yourself off, you get back up and you get ready,” he said. “We’re going to be in playoffs in a week. You can never pick and choose your opponent. We did everything we could to win tonight’s game; we’ll go out and do everything we can to win tomorrow night’s game and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
The Islanders close out the regular season Saturday in Halifax with a 4:30 p.m. game with the Mooseheads.
The Islanders came out of the shoot Friday hot. They controlled much of the play for the opening period and went to the second period leading 1-0 on Brendon Clavelle's goal. But Moncton tied it with seven minutes remaining in the middle stanza and took the lead two minutes later. Cole Edwards knotted the game up at 18:10, but the Wildcats potted the eventual winner 39 seconds later.
“It was a great hockey game. The only disappointing part is the result, but I thought we were the better team for large chunks of the game, but they had some good push-back,” Hulton said. “They’re a good team. There’s not much to pick and choose between the teams. There’s a reason why the race is this tight.”
Alexander Khovanov added a goal and an assist while Elliot Desnoyers also scored for the visitors. Cornwall’s Jordan Spence, Jakob Pelletier, Aleksi Anttalainen and Jacob Hudson each added an assist for the Wildcats.
Colin Van Den Hurk, Kevin Gursoy, Hunter Drew and Daniel Hardie each had an assist for Charlottetown.
Thomas Casey made his return to the lineup and he brougth a speed element the club has been missing, Hulton said. Will Sirman remains out and won't play Saturday.
Francis Leclerc stopped 33 shots for the victory while Matthew Welsh made 23 saves in the loss. Moncton was 1-for-4 on the power play while killing all four of Charlottetown’s chances with the man advantage.