In a game between two of the top teams in the QMJHL and only one point separating the Mooseheads and Oceanic for second place overall, a close game was to be expected. That’s exactly what 8,328 were treated to in Halifax on Sunday as the Mooseheads pulled out a 6-5 overtime win on a goal by Raphael Lavoie.
The Moose were rolling early as Filip Zadina had the team flying out of the gate when he scored just 36 seconds after the opening puck drop. His early goal seemed to put the Oceanic on their heels right away and the Herd scored three times on their first four shots of the contest. BO Groulx showed his strength when he took the puck down the right side with only one hand on the stick and fought off the defender before sliding the puck in behind goalie Colten Ellis. Rimouski Head Coach Serge Beausoleil had seen enough when Zadina tallied for the second time just 5:26 into the game to increase the Halifax lead to 3-0. Ellis got the hook in favour of Carmine-Anthony Pagliarulo as the star rookie Zadina placed the perfect high shot over the goalie’s shoulder for a short-handed marker. The two goals brought Zadina’s season total to 39 which is the second most in the QMJHL.
The scoring was far from done in the first period however. Rimouski got on the board when a point shot deflected off Moose defenceman Ryan Barbosa and in behind Alex Gravel to cut the lead to 3-1. The Herd got it right back as Connor Moynihan tallied on a wrap-around 43 seconds later and Raphael Lavoie extended the lead to 5-1 before the period was over.
The second stanza proved to be all Rimouski. The visitors scored the only three goals of the period and it was a 5-4 game heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation. Colten Ellis returned to the Rimouski net for the third period which was an extremely tight checking 20 minutes of hockey but the Oceanic found a way to tie the game. Young Alexis Lafreniere scored for the second time on the afternoon at the 16:36 mark as he jammed away at a loose puck at the side of the net. That silenced the big crowd at Scotiabank Centre but they were about to let out the largest roar of the day in overtime. The teams traded chances early during the three-on-three but Lavoie proved to be the hero. He wound up for a big shot that felled Carson MacKinnon who blocked it, then Lavoie scooped up the loose puck and went backhand to win it and the building shook with excitement.
Lavoie has an astounding nine game-winning goals this season with five of them coming in overtime. The goal was also an exciting way for the Mooseheads to grab the 800th franchise victory.
Halifax improves to 37-13-6-1 on the season which gives the club 81 points. They increase their lead for second in the overall standings to two points over Rimouski as the Oceanic drop to 36-14-6-1. Maybe just as importantly, the Mooseheads pulled four points clear of Acadie-Bathurst for top spot in the Maritimes Division.
The Herd played without forwards Max Fortier and Joel Bishop, defenceman Patty Kyte and goalie Blade Mann-Dixon who all sat out with injuries.
The next game for the Mooseheads is this Wednesday on the road against the Charlottetown Islanders at 7pm. The Mooseheads come back home to battle the Gatineau Olympiques on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 in a game that will be part of Sportsnet’s CHL Saturday Showcase. The team will have the Memorial Cup Trophy on hand for fans to view during the game. The Mooseheads will also entertain the Drummondville Voltigeurs on Sunday at 3pm in another battle between two teams in the top five of the QMJHL. 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.