Finding Ways to Win – Mooseheads Streak Sits at 8
In order to have continued success in any sport, teams need contributions from up and down the lineup and that’s precisely what the Mooseheads are getting right now. Halifax tied the team record for sixth longest winning streak in franchise history with their eighth consecutive victory on Saturday night in Moncton and the Mooseheads are simply finding ways to win. Halifax (29-10-4-1) begins the third week of January sitting in first place in the overall standings with 63 points, already three points better than the team total in 2016-17. The last time fans of the team saw a winning streak this long was in February-March of 2014 when the Moose reeled off 13 in a row on their way to a second overall finish in the standings with 97 points. The all-time franchise record for consecutive wins is 15, accomplished in the fall of 1998.
During the present streak, five of the eight straight victories have been by one goal with four of those coming in overtime. 17 different players have since combined for 104 points led by Raphael Lavoie’s nine goals and seven assists. Heck even goalie Blade Mann-Dixon has notched an assist during the streak. Six of the wins have come on the road where the club is 15-7-2-1 this season. General Manager Cam Russell said Head Coach Jim Midgley and his staff are consistently getting good efforts from all over the ice.
“Both of our goalies are playing really well, defensively we’ve been strong and all of our lines are scoring,” he said.
During the eight-game span players like Ben Higgins and Brett Crossley have scored their first goals of the season, newcomer Jake Ryczek has slotted into his role nicely on the blue line while Otto Somppi has become an assist machine with 12 helpers as he has moved into the QMJHL lead with 37 assists. Those are just a few of the great storylines that have emerged from the 2017-18 edition of the Mooseheads.
Special teams have also played an important role, most notably the penalty kill. Halifax has been successful on 27 of the 32 times the Moose have been shorthanded during the streak which is good for an 84.4 penalty killing percentage. The Mooseheads have been among the best all season in that department and are third in the league, clicking at an 84 percent rate for the year. The power play has certainly turned a corner as well and over the eight straight wins the club has scored nine times in 28 chances on the man advantage. Any coach would gladly take a 32 percent scoring rate on the power play.
Winning streak statistics
Breaking down the winning streak
Win #1 Saturday, December 30th: The winning streak began in the Hurley Cup opener with the largest crowd of the season at Scotiabank Centre. Halifax got two big goals in the third period from Xavier Parent and Benoit-Olivier Groulx to pick up a 5-2 victory over Cape Breton. Parent was named the first star in the game as he scored a pair of goals while Alex Gravel slammed the door with 29 saves.
Win #2 Sunday, December 31st: The Mooseheads captured the Hurley Cup by dumping the Screaming Eagles 4-1 at Centre 200 in Sydney. That game also started the personal hot streak for Raphael Lavoie as he was named the first star with one goal and two assists. He has points in every game since that point including four game-winning goals. Alex Gravel was once again a key factor with 35 saves on 36 shots. The win put the Herd one point behind Blainville-Boisbriand for first overall.
Win #3 Tuesday, January 2nd: The Mooseheads’ first game in the new-year was a closely fought 4-3 overtime win in Moncton on a chilly Tuesday night. Jocktan Chainey was the OT hero while fellow defenceman Jared McIsaac had a terrific game with a pair of assists and was a threat with the puck throughout the contest. Blade Mann-Dixon picked up the victory with 28 saves.
Win #4 Saturday, January 6th: The road trip continued in Saint John, New Brunswick and another tight overtime battle. This time it was Raphael Lavoie getting the winner on a pretty goal 1:57 into the extra period. Mann-Dixon made things tough on the Sea Dogs with 25 saves on 26 shots after coming on in relief of Gravel. The 20-year-old goalie also had an assist on the Lavoie goal as he made a huge save at one end and flipped the puck ahead to keep the play alive. Brett Crossley was the second star with two goals and Connor Moynihan had a productive night with three assists.
Win #5 Sunday, January 7th: Filip Zadina played his first game since returning from an awesome display at the World Junior Hockey Championship and made his presence known immediately with the game-winning goal in a 6-5 win at Acadie-Bathurst. Zadina helped the Moose survive a scare after they allowed the Titan to rally from a 5-1 deficit in the third period to tie the game with four consecutive goals. The Czech sniper walked in from the blue line and wired a wrist shot by goalie Evan Fitzpatrick with only 49 seconds remaining in regulation. Lavoie continued to heat up with another huge afternoon. The imposing 17-year-old scored twice and added two assists.
Win #6 Thursday, January 11th: The Mooseheads came back home to host the Charlottetown Islanders who had significantly added to their roster at the trade deadline and have been steadily climbing the standings. Halifax solidified their hold on first place in the division though as they doubled the Isles 6-3 at Scotiabank Centre. Zadina’s two goals and one assist made him the first star, Otto Somppi had three assists and Walter Flower emerged with one of his best all-around efforts of the season. The Lunenburg defenceman played the shutdown role perfectly and chipped in with an assist on Raphael Lavoie’s game-winning goal in the second period.
Win #7 Friday, January 12th: Halifax was in tough back out on the road the very next night to finish a home and home series with Charlottetown. The team knew the Islanders would be out for revenge especially being back in their home barn but once again timely goals and strong goaltending made the difference for the Moose in a 3-2 overtime win. Charlottetown scored twice with less than 4:32 to play in regulation to take a 2-1 lead but Jake Ryczek won the hearts of fans in Moose Country as he tallied on the power play with only 41 seconds remaining on the clock to force overtime. That’s when Raphael Lavoie went to work yet again. He got the puck from Ryczek just insdie the blue line and he made Arizona Coyotes first round pick P-O Joseph look silly as he delayed with the puck and then beat the defenceman when he burst towards goalie Matt Welsh and going forehand and burying the shot en route to being named the first star. The game might have looked much different if not for the play of Blade Mann-Dixon who gave his team the opportunity to win with 41 saves. His play between the pipes really helped the Moose weather the storm and gave them a chance to come through when it mattered most.
Win #8 Saturday, January 13th: Finishing off the busy three games in three days it was easy to see the legs were tired for the Herd to begin their game in Moncton but they got stronger as the game wore on in yet another overtime victory, taking this one 4-3 in front of more than 5,400 fans at the Coliseum, including some very boisterous Mooseheads supporters who made the trip. Mr. Clutch Raphael Lavoie netted the winner after Halifax killed off an early penalty in the extra period. The latest win was a prime example of getting contributions from all over the lineup. Ben Higgins was the second star with one goal and two assists while Joel Bishop played a key role with one goal, one assist and continued to make things difficult for the opponent when he was without the puck. Defenceman Patty Kyte made the victory possible as he came up with another huge goal near the end of regulation to force overtime. Kyte took a fine pass from Connor Moynihan and let a shot go from the right of goalie Mark Grametbauer to tie the game 3-3 with 3:04 on the clock. Kyte has been a major part of the winning streak with four goals and three goals and four assists in the eight games.
The Mooseheads’s next chance to extend the streak comes back on home ice. You can be part of the excitement this Wednesday night at 7pm as Halifax plays host to Moncton in a rematch against the Cats. The rivalry has been in the spotlight even more than usual with both teams announcing their intentions to bid for the 2019 Mastercard Memorial Cup. The Mooseheads (29-10-4-1) have pulled away from the Wildcats (17-19-5-3) in the standings and are 21 points up on their New Brunswick foes.
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.