Mooseheads dump Titan to take over 1st place
The Halifax Mooseheads are right where they want to be at the exact half-way point of the 2017-18 season. The team sits in first place in the Maritimes Division after a convincing 5-2 victory on home ice against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, a team they’ve been fighting with for top spot all season. Through 34 games the Herd have a 20-9-4-1 record which is good for 45 points.
“I think it was a team win. We talked this week about playing as a team and I think in these last two games everyone has shown up and played for one another,” Captain Max Fortier said following the game.
Scoring came in bunches for the Mooseheads who had complete control of the game after 40 minutes of play. Connor Moynihan got things started when he pounced on a rebound at the side of the net less than five minutes into the game. Jordan Lepage sent a shot on goal that kicked out to the right side where Moynihan likes to park himself and he made no mistake for his 10th goal of the season. Jared McIsaac was also credited with an assist on the play.
McIsaac was in the spotlight as were many draft eligible players with a packed Pat Connolly press box full of scouts. Each NHL team was represented in some form for the game as they were carefully evaluating the 2018 draft crop that featured McIsaac, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Alex Gravel and Titan defenceman Noah Dobson.
It was an exciting night overall for the team not only because of the win but about an hour before puck drop the QMJHL announced Halifax is on a shortlist with Moncton as the two cities competing to host the 2019 Mastercard Memorial Cup. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 5th.
Halifax took a 2-0 lead to to the dressing room after rookie Xavier Parent roofed a puck on the power play at the 17:21 mark off a nice pass by Raphael Lavoie. The Titan were shorthanded after Liam Murphy decked unsuspecting Mooseheads defenceman Patty Kyte with a check to the head, but Kyte was able to bounce right back to his feet and was not hurt on the play. The Pembroke, Ontario player played a solid all-around game but his crowning achievement came midway through the second period as Kyte slid in a pass from Otto Somppi for his first career goal to increase the lead to 3-0. Kyte was fortunate enough to have his father and brother in attendance for the feat.
“I hit couple posts in the previous game and I was itching for that goal. They might ask me when’s the second one coming but I’m just happy to get my first tonight.”
Kyte earned the second star of the game while the coaching staff awarded him with the player of the game helmet for his efforts.
The goals kept coming for the Mooseheads when first star Otto Somppi fought off two defenders behind the net to feed Arnaud Durandeau who scored a sneaky one by slipping the puck in at the feet of Reilly Pickard and the lead was 4-0.
Maxime Fortier showed why he is so dangerous on the penalty kill as he raced to a loose puck and blew past the defense and fooled goalie Reilly Pickard when he deked to the backhand to tally his fourth shorthanded goal of the season to make it 5-0 late in the period. The 18th goal of the season came on the Captain’s 20th birthday and also gave him sole possession of fifth all-time in goals scored in Mooseheads history with 90. Fortier surpassed franchise great Brandon Reid and is eight behind Darcy Ashley for fourth place.
Pickard was replaced between the pipes by Jordan Murdaca to start the final period as the Titan managed to score a pair of goals but never mounted anything that could be considered a comeback attempt. The Mooseheads win evens the season series 2-2 between the two top teams in the division with both teams winning twice on home ice. Acadie-Bathurst’s record drops to 18-9-5-2. The teams will play five more times in the second half of the year including the final regular season game on March 17th at Scotiabank Centre. Alex Gravel earned the win with 29 saves.
The QMJHL trade period begins Monday at 1pm AST and runs until Saturday, January 6th.
The Mooseheads will wrap up the pre-Christmas schedule Saturday night at 7pm when they battle the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for the second time in four days. The Herd scored a 5-2 win in Sydney on Wednesday. Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or call 451-1221.