The enemy tonight

Lots of friend­ships in tonight’s Is­lan­ders-Olympiques matchup

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY THE GUARDIAN

Jake Cough­ler spent the first two and a half sea­sons of his ju­nior hockey ca­reer with the Gatineau Olympiques.

Tonight the ver­sa­tile for­ward plays his first game against them.

“I made some great friend­ships there and it will be kind of fun play­ing them tomorrow,” the Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders new­est ad­di­tion said be­fore Thurs­day’s prac­tice. “It’s go­ing to be a lit­tle weird at first but I’m definitely ex­cited.”

So what hap­pens when he goes af­ter a loose puck in the cor­ner with a for­mer team­mate?

“I’m sure there will be a few choice words and things like that, but it will be fun,” he said. “It’s all busi­ness at the same time and there’s no friends on the ice. Af­ter, we can chat, but they’re the enemy tomorrow.”

Cough­ler is not the only one play­ing a fa­mil­iar face.

The Is­lan­ders ac­quired Guil­laume Beaudry, Ni­co­las Le­blond and Alexis Vanier dur­ing the trade pe­riod. All three played in Baie-Comeau with de­fence­man Ni­co­las Me­loche, who was traded to the Olympiques.

“It will be spe­cial to play against him,” Beaudry said. “Me, Le­blond and Me­loche are three best friends. (We) started are ju­nior ca­reer to­gether and (we we’re) al­ways to­gether.” Want more con­nec­tions? How about Kameron Kielly start­ing his ca­reer with Gatineau.

Only de­fence­man Alexan­dre Car­rier re­mains from that 201213 Olympiques team.

Or for­mer P.E.I. Rocket and Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders for­ward Yan-Pavel La­plante making his last trip to the East­link Cen­tre, un­less the teams meet in the play­offs.

With the amount of move­ment within the league friends of­ten are play­ing one an­other.

“Af­ter the trade dead­line, it height­ens up a lot of friendly ri­val­ries,” Is­lan­ders coach Jim Hul­ton said. “I think it’s a good thing. . . The ma­jor­ity of th­ese kids are highly com­pet­i­tive, so they set aside their friend­ships for 60 min­utes.”

And that will be im­por­tant for an Is­lan­ders team need­ing points.

Hul­ton cut prac­tice short and sent his play­ers to the dress­ing room on Thurs­day.

“I didn’t think it was a great day at the of­fice for us,” he said af­ter­wards. “They looked a lit­tle bit tired, so I thought rather than burn­ing any more on the prac­tice ice, we’ll save it for the game.”

He said there is a pre­mium on points right now as it looks to move up the stand­ings. Gatineau (25-12-1-1) is in fifth place in the league while Char­lot­te­town (1520-3-2) is 15th.

“We can’t pat our­selves on the back for good ef­forts any more.”

Ma­son McDon­ald gets the start tonight.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Jake Cough­ler car­ries the puck through the neu­tral zone dur­ing Thurs­day’s Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders prac­tice.

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