Play­ing at home

Welsh gets road start tonight against the Moose­heads

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

The last time Matthew Welsh played at the Sco­tia­bank Cen­tre he was in novice and the build­ing was called the Metro Cen­tre.

The Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders goalie gets the start tonight in Hal­i­fax against a Moose­heads team he grew up watch­ing.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” the Hal­i­fax na­tive said be­fore Mon­day’s prac­tice. “A lot of friends and fam­ily are go­ing to watch the game, I think.”

The 16-year-old Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League rookie said he is not feel­ing any ex­tra pres­sure.

As “the away team you’re just look­ing to go in and steal two points,” he said. “I think I will go in with the same mind­set as ev­ery other game.”

Welsh has played the bulk of the games in the Is­lan­ders crease since fel­low Haligo­nian Ma­son McDon­ald left to be part of Canada’s world ju­nior team in Fin­land in De­cem­ber.

Welsh went 3-4 with 2.94 goals-against av­er­age and a .914 save per­cent­age since Dec. 11.

“It’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve en­joyed ev­ery minute of it,” he said. “I’m at a stage now where I feel com­fort­able go­ing into the net ev­ery night.”

While he is con­tin­u­ing to learn and grow as a goalie, Welsh said he has more con­fi­dence go­ing to the blue ice be­cause of the added work­load.

“He’s been ex­tremely good for us,” said Is­lan­ders head coach Jim Hul­ton.

McDon­ald is back in Nova Sco­tia but is not ex­pected to play for the Is­lan­ders un­til Fri­day, as he rests af­ter trav­el­ling back from Fin­land.

Char­lot­te­town (15-20-2-2) de­feated Hal­i­fax (13-20-5-1) 6-5 in over­time on Sun­day in Char­lot­te­town, but al­most let points slip away.

The Is­lan­ders held 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2 leads, but Hal­i­fax scored three goals in the fi­nal 7:35 to force OT.

“As a team we know we can’t let up next time,” said the five­foot-10, 176-pound Welsh.

“We’re go­ing to have to be bet­ter,” Hul­ton said. “We need to du­pli­cate our first 40-minute ef­fort and re­move the fi­nal 20, where I thought we got away from our game plan.”

The Is­lan­ders had six new faces in Sun­day’s lineup, who were not with the team be­fore the Christ­mas break.

The team is still work­ing on find­ing chem­istry with lines and de­fence pair­ings.

It will con­tinue tonight with the Is­lan­ders ac­qui­si­tion Mon­day of Jake Cough­ler from the Gatineau Olympiques for a fifthround pick in 2016.

The 19-year-old St. Cather­ines, Ont., na­tive can play cen­tre and right wing. The six-foot-one, 178-pound Cough­ler has five goals and seven as­sists in 28 games this sea­son, his third in the QMJHL.

Gen­eral man­ager Grant Sonier called him a hard worker who skates well.

Kameron Kielly skated Mon­day with his team­mates for only the sec­ond time since suf­fer­ing an up­per-body in­jury Nov. 14. He is not ex­pected back be­fore the mid­dle of the month at the ear­li­est.

Cen­tre Filip Ch­lapik is still in Europe af­ter com­pet­ing for the Czech Repub­lic at the world ju­nior tour­na­ment.

“We’re ex­cited about what our depth po­ten­tially is go­ing to be when we get ev­ery­body back, but it’s im­por­tant that we start to win now,” Hul­ton said. “We need to get re­sults and we need to get re­sults fast.”


Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders goalie Matthew Welsh watches as team­mate Sa­muel Blais pre­pares to take a shot at Mon­day’s prac­tice.

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