Max Melançon has hit the ice skating like he’s been a Charlottetown Islander all season.
The 18-year-old Drummondville, Que., native scored the game-winning goal Sunday as the Islanders defeated the Halifax Mooseheads 5-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action at the Eastlink Centre.
“It was a nice feeling, scoring my first goal here,” he said. “It’s been a while since my last goal in the Q.”
Melançon played 22 goals as a 16-year-old rookie after the Shawinigan Cataractes drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He played 46 games last season, but admitted to being on a different page with the coach and decided to start 2019-20 campaign in junior A.
“I said I’m going to go back there and hope for another chance.”
He’s getting it in Charlottetown with a team that has been besieged by injuries the past month. The Islanders traded a sixth-round pick in 2020 to Shawinigan for his rights on Wednesday. He arrived Thursday night and made his debut in Friday’s overtime victory against Val-d’Or.
Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said it was fantastic to see Melançon quickly blend in with the team on and off the ice.
“He’s a big body, he’s patient with the puck, he’s exactly what the doctor ordered for us and it’s great to see him get rewarded,” he said after Sunday’s win. “He looks like a guy that’s ready for a second opportunity and (is going to) make the most of it.”
Sunday also represented the return of centre Nikita Alexandrov to the Islanders lineup from an ankle injury sustained Nov. 9 in Sydney, N.S. While he didn't hit the scoresheet Sunday, his presence was unmistakable as he created numerous scoring chances for the home side.
“You add skill and you back people off,” Hulton said. “He set the tone. You could feel the energy in the building, having him back.”
The Islanders doubled the Mooseheads shot total of 21. It marked the second game in a row the team has had 40-plus shots.
“(We’re) starting to get the identity back,” the bench boss said.
Charlottetown heads to Quebec this week for three games in three days starting Friday at Baie-Comeau. They’re in Chicoutimi Saturday and Victoriaville on Sunday.
Defenceman Lukas Cormier is back skating with the team after his foot injury. The team is going to be cautious with his timetable but Hulton said there’s a chance he plays during the weekend.
A look at Sunday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game between the host Charlottetown Islanders and the Halifax Mooseheads.
Halifax – 2.
Charlottetown – 5.
Halifax – Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Maxim Trepanier.
Charlottetown – Thomas Casey 2, Gaetan Jobin, Liam Peyton and Max Melancon.
Halifax – Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Maxim Trepanier, Raphaël Lavoie and Patrick Kyte.
Charlottetown – Xavier Bernard, Will Trudeau, Noah Laaouan, Zac Beauregard, Brett Budgell, Gaetan Jobin and Matthew Welsh.
Halifax – Cole McLaren, 38 saves on 42 shots.
Charlottetown – Matthew Welsh, 19 saves on 21 shots.
Halifax – 2-for-4.
Charlottetown – 1-for-1.
Charlottetown – 16-10-4-0.
Announced attendance – 2,226.
Get your Monday started with a beautiful goal by Liam Peyton yesterday in our victory over the Mooseheads! pic.twitter.com/nz0BKU7Nm0— Charlottetown Islanders (@IslandersHKY) December 2, 2019