Winning a squeaker
Islanders fire 52 shots at Titan goalie, come away with close win
Firing more than 50 shots at an opposing goalie usually adds up to a blowout win, but Reilly Pickard nearly beat the math.
The Acadie-Bathurst netminder stopped 50-of-52 shots in the Titan’s 3-1 loss to the Charlottetown Islanders and kept the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game tied until Alexis Vanier wristed the game-winning goal over Pickard’s right shoulder with under three minutes left in the third period.
“It was a play off the rush. There was stuff going on behind the net and some stuff going on in front of the net. The puck came out (to Vanier). It was a quick release and I just didn’t pick it up,” said Pickard, who was named the game’s first star. “It’s a tough pill to swallow. The boys played a great game (and) we’re pretty banged up.”
With Sunday’s win, the Isles (19-22-5-2) have earned points in 10 of its last 13 games. It also avenged a 4-3 loss to the Titan on Friday in Bathurst, N.B., and moved the Isles into a 12th-place tie with Drummondville with 45 points.
The Titan dropped to 18-24-32, 16th overall and good for the last playoff spot.
Pickard was sharp in the first period, stopping 15-of-16 shots. Kameron Kielly beat the Halifax native with a nice roof shot just over 13 minutes into the frame for 1-0 period lead.
Acadie-Bathurst’s Jeffery Truchon-Viel bested Isle goalie Mason McDonald on a sweet give from Daniil Miromanov to tie things 1-1 at 11:16 of the second, despite the Islanders sending 21 shots Pickard’s way.
But in the end, the Islanders out-skated and out-chanced the Titan in the third leading to Vanier’s winner.
The defenceman said the Islanders refused to get frustrated and likes what he sees from the squad.
“We continued the same way. The goalie on the other side did a great job, but we just continued to get pucks on the net,” said the 20-year-old Vanier. “I think we can beat any team in this league. (We’re becoming) a tough team.”
Jake Coughler added an empty-net goal at 18:47 of the third. The Islanders host Cape Breton in a two-game set Friday and Saturday at Eastlink Centre. Game times are 7 p.m.
Charlottetown Islanders centre Filip Rydstrom, left, looks over his shoulder to see the puck go into the Acadie-Bathurst Titan net behind Reilly Pickard on a shot by Kameron Kielly during Sunday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.