Welsh caps record setting night with a shutout win against Halifax
The Islanders started the second half of the season on a good note, defeating the Maritime Division leading Halifax Mooseheads on the road.
Matt Welsh got the start in net for the Isles in this one, with the chance to break the Islanders franchise win record in his hometown of Halifax. At the other end of the ice, former Islanders goalie, Blade Mann-Dixon received his 20th start of the season for the Mooseheads.
Both teams came out with some rust in their game following the extended Holiday break, leading to scoreless first period that saw the Mooseheads outshoot the Isles 7-6.
The game began to open up in the second period though, as both team got back into the swing of things.
At the 16:15 mark of the second period, Isles forward Nathaniel Doyon delivered a hit to Halifax forward Joel Bishop drawing a crowd, forcing defencemen Hunter Drew to step in to defend his teammate.
Drew would eventually get into it with Mooseheads hulking forward Connor Moynihan and the two dropped the gloves and squared off.
Both combatants got in a few shots before being tied up along the boards by the officiasl and escorted to the penalty box to sit for 5 minutes.
Following multiple penalties, including a Doyon and Jared McIsaac game misconduct, play resumed at centre ice.
The tilt must have sparked the Islanders as just 35 seconds after the puck was dropped, assistant captain Pascal Aquin received a pass from P.O. Joseph before bursting down the right-wing boards and beating Mann-Dixon with the quick shot on the forehand!
With the lead in hand the Isles looked to enter the second intermission in control.
In the closing seconds of the period, Isles winger Sam Kings got his stick up high in the corner and received a double-minor for high sticking.
The power play carried over into the third period and forced Welsh to make several spectacular saves to keep his time in front.
King would take another minor penalty minutes after his return to the ice, and the Mooseheads took to the ice looking for the equalizer.
Less than 20 seconds into the man advantage, Aquin stole the puck from a Halifax defencemen before chipping it up ice, winning the race to the loose puck and ultimately out-waiting Mann-Dixon and beating the sprawled out netminder under the pads.
The Mooseheads pulled Mann-Dixon in favour of an extra-attacker late, but Welsh was up to the task, stopping everything thrown his way.
As the final buzzer sounded, Welsh walked away with 36 save shutout victory earning his 55th win as an Islander, setting a new Charlottetown Islanders/ P.E.I. Rocket goaltending record for most wins in franchise history.
Welsh and Aquin earned first and second star of the game honours and the Isles walked out of Halifax with an exciting 2-0 victory.
Head Coach and General Manager Jim Hulton likes what he saw from his team to start the second half of their season.
“We played a plucky, resilient game and got rewarded [for it]. Once again our penalty kill and goaltending were outstanding.”
The Isles are back in action at home on Friday night against the Maritime Division rival Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Game time is set for a 7pm start.