The Halifax Mooseheads opened up a road trip Saturday afternoon with hopes of getting back in the win column but despite a strong start the Herd dropped their third consecutive game, falling 4-2 to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
With roof renovations ongoing at the Centre Georges Vezina in Chicoutimi, the game was played on the small ice surface at the nearby Palais des Sports de Saguenay in Jonquiere, QC. The rink is about 15 feet shorter than the standard ice size which led to some fast paced action on Saturday. The Mooseheads were first on the board when Raphael let a blast go from the point and Connor Moynihan deflected the shot in behind Sags goalie Zachary Bouthlillier on the power play late in the opening period. That gave the Herd a 1-0 lead and some confidence going into the second period. Halifax really controlled the play early on and had the shot clock well in their favour 16-5 after 20 minutes.
Penalty trouble was the story in the middle frame for the Mooseheads as they were called for five straight infractions. It didn’t hurt at first as Maxime Fortier picked up a puck along the boards near his own blue-line and skated in on a two-on-one. The Captain held onto the puck and used a toe drag to get around the defender before flipping his 31st goal of the season high over the shoulder of Bouthillier at 5:23. That’s where the good news ended for Halifax.
With Cooper Jones still serving the same penalty that Fortier scored on, Ben Higgins joined him after a high sticking call to give Chicoutimi a two-man advantage. Veteran Kevin Klima was very little time by scoring from the far side of the point 15 seconds into the five-on-three. That ended the Jones penalty but 37 seconds later with Higgins still watching from the sin bin Klima scored on goalie Blade Mann-Dixon on almost an exact replica of his first goal and just like that the game was tied 2-2.
The Sagueneens quickly took the lead 1:30 into the third period when Morgan Nauss fired the puck from the point through traffic and Zachary Lavigne got his stick on it to get credit for what was the game-winner. Liam Stevens added an insurance marker 66 seconds later and Chicoutimi’s Bouthillier shut the door the rest of the way. The goalie withstood some pressure from Halifax down the stretch and ended with 28 saves to earn the second star. Klima’s back-to-back power play goals gave him the first star while Fortier, who also hit the crossbar in the final period, picked up the third star. Mann-Dixon took his third loss in as many starts and managed 24 saves on 28 shots.
Halifax was 1-5 on the power play while Chicoutimi went 2-9 with the man advantage.
The Mooseheads record falls to 39-16-6-1 and find themselves tied in point with Acadie-Bathurst at 85 after the Titan scored a 5-3 victory over Moncton later on Saturday. Both teams have six games remaining and will face off in what will likely be a key battle on the final day of the season in Halifax.
The road trip continues Sunday afternoon at 5pm for the Moose as they visit the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The Herd will make a stop in Rimouski on Tuesday night at 8:30. Halifax plays it’s final road game of the regular season in Acadie-Bathurst on Friday before returning home for the last three games of the year.
The Mooseheads will host Saint John on Wednesday, March 14th at 7pm, Moncton on Friday, March 16th at 7pm while fan appreciation day will be held on Saturday, March 17th at 4pm in what could be a huge game against the Titan. As it sits now, the Mooseheads are four points ahead of Bathurst for the division lead and the Titan have one game-in-hand.
Tickets for the three remaining home game 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.