CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Matthew Welsh spent almost as much time on stage as the trophies after winning four times at the Charlottetown Islanders award presentations Monday in Charlottetown.
The 18-year-old goalie earned, in order, the scholastic player of the year, his third straight fan favourite award, the player’s player award (as voted on by his teammates) and the Isles most valuable player award.
So far, Welsh is 29-20 (tied for second overall in wins) with a fifth overall best 2.68 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. He also leads Quebec Major Junior Hockey League goalies in minutes at 2,884:23.
But Welsh’s MVP may have begun during the Isles awful 1-5-1 start this season when he kept the team in games and gave the squad, then with just 11 goals in seven games, a chance to win until the offence caught up.
Not bad for a third-year kid, a second round pick in 2015, from Halifax, N.S., who spent his rookie season behind Mason McDonald and lost on the starter’s sweepstakes last season to Mark Grametbauer.
“It is overwhelming especially in front of the 20 guys out there, they’re all my brothers. These may be individual awards, but this is a team. All season we’ve battled as a team. My own personal success is from them helping me all season,” said Welsh, adding he’s likely to take some ribbing from his mates after the awards for his four onstage post-acceptance interviews. “Yeah, probably. Interview questions are hard to answer. I’m sure I’ll take a few shots.”
Other winners included Keith Getson (offensive player of the year), Brett Budgell (rookie), Hunter Drew (hardest working player), Olivier Desjardins (community involvement) and Pascal Aquin (play of the year).
Isles captain Pierre-Olivier Joseph spent time in the spotlight, too, as the third-year blue-liner earned the Mooselight 3-Star and defensive player of the year awards.
Under heavy minutes this season in every situation, the 18-year-old Chambly, Que., native, has career highs in goals (13), points (46), power-play goals (5) and tied his career high in assists (33). But he’s also a scratch player in plus-minus ratio, a category often watched for defensive effectiveness.
Joseph, honoured he said by the award, looks at defence as a mindset, not just a learned skill.
“It’s something that I’ve been working on for the last 18 years of my life. Build for the defensive zone, be better in the d-zone, becoming (a part of) the best goals-against team in the league,” he said. “You need to know players around the league, practice, (continue) working on that which can make you better. It’s a big part of the process.”
The Islanders (34-22-6) return to action Wednesday versus the Sea Dogs (13-38-9-2) in Saint John, N.B. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Envelope Please
Winners at the Charlottetown Islanders awards Monday in Charlottetown.
Rookie - Brett Budgell.
Scholastic Award - Matthew Welsh.
3-Star Award - Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Offensive - Keith Getson.
Hardest Working - Hunter Drew.
Class Act Award - Olivier Desjardins.
Defensive - Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Volunteer - Nancy Fong.
Fan Favourite - Matthew Welsh.
Play of the year - Pascal Aquin.
Player’s Player - Matthew Welsh.
MVP - Matthew Welsh.