Charlottetown Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh says he knows there are some people around the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who didn't expect his team to be winning as much as they are.
But he's not one of them.
"I never had any doubt in our team," Welsh said Sunday, the morning after the Islanders took a 2-0 lead in their opening-round playoff series against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The best-of-seven series resumes Tuesday.
"There were definitely people out there who didn't expect us to be doing this well but I fully expected to have this much success. I'm not surprised with the results we've been getting."
Despite trading some of their best players in December — captain Pierre-Joseph Olivier and veterans Keith Getson and Derek Gentile — the Islanders finished sixth out of 18 teams in the league.
Welsh, a Halifax native in his fourth year with the Islanders, said there is no shortage of leadership in the dressing room, including 20-year-olds Hunter Drew, Daniel Hardie and Jordan Maher, who won the Memorial Cup last year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Anyone can step up and be a leader on any given night. — Mathew Welsh
"Anyone can step up and be a leader on any given night," Welsh said. "There are so many great personalities, great leadership qualities in our dressing room."
Another of those leaders, Welsh said, is Brett Budgell, who scored the winning goal in the second overtime period in Game 1 on Friday at the Eastlink Centre.
Saturday night, it was 16-year-old rookie Lukas Cormier who was named the No. 1 star in a 6-4 victory. As the team celebrated, defenceman Colin Van Den Hurk cranked up the "win song" — the Latin beat Danza Kuduro by Don Omar — in the dressing room, Welsh said.
The team leaves for Sydney, N.S., on Monday for games Tuesday and Wednesday. Welsh said the mood on the bus should be positive.
"I think we have a lot of confidence. We've been playing our best hockey all season lately and we're really happy with how the results have been coming."
Game 5, if necessary, is scheduled for Charlottetown on Friday.
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