In Charlottetown, Islanders fans have grown accustomed to big performances from Matthew Welsh. Today, the country got to see it, as Welsh was in top form when the Isles took on the Mooseheads on Sportsnet’s CHL Saturday Showcase.
Unfortunately for the Isles, Mooseheads netminder Alexis Gravel was in equally as top form. The Chicago Blackhawks draft pick shut the door on Charlottetown from the first minute of the game, making 24 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Mooseheads defeated the Islanders 3-0 Saturday afternoon.
“Tonight’s game was a tight-checking, playoff-style match from start to finish.” Said Islanders head coach Jim Hulton. I thought we competed extremely hard in all areas but couldn’t find the back of the net.”
“Both goaltenders were on top of their game as expected.”
The two goalies were stalwarts in their respective creases, holding the skaters without a goal through the first 20 minutes. The players in front of them battled back and forth, wearing each other down with hit after hit and chippy play all over the ice. It was the kind of game fitting for two Maritime Division rivals with a history.
The only crack in the fortress Welsh put up tonight was just that – a crack. Raphael Lavoie put a puck on net that just squeezed between the legs of the Islanders netminder and tricked across the line. The goal gave Lavoie his 28th goal of the season and the Mooseheads a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders pushed hard for the game-tying goal throughout the second and in to the third period, however the Mooseheads defenders shut the door, limiting opportunities to outside shots, making it easy for Gravel to make saves.
That defensive play was enough to stymie the Islanders for the remainder of the game. Lavoie would add his second on the game nearing the end of the third and Jared McIsaac would score in to the empty net, sending the Mooseheads faithful home with a big victory.
Welsh, named third star in the game, made 30 saves in defeat. Hunter Drew led the Islanders with 8 shots on goal.
One area of concern for the Islanders was in the faceoff dot. The Mooseheads won 74.6% of the faceoffs, or 47 of 63. Benoit-Olivier Groulx led the way winning 14 of the 21 draws he took, while former Islander Keith Getson was a perfect 11 for 11.
The Islanders will finish off the Islander Day long weekend with a road game in Moncton on Islander Day Monday, February 18th. George Matthews will have the call in that game as always on Fair Isle Ford Isles Radio.