The enemy tonight
Lots of friendships in tonight’s Islanders-Olympiques matchup
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.
Jake Coughler carries the puck through the neutral zone during Thursday’s Charlottetown Islanders practice.