In a game that was lopsided in shots but even on the scoreboard, Mooseheads defenceman Justin Barron took things into his own hands to help secure a 5-4 road victory for Halifax versus Acadie-Bathurst.
The Mooseheads dominated the Titan 45-20 in shots but couldn’t shake the last place team who had fought back to tie the game three times. The score was 4-4 and all signs were pointing to overtime until Justin Barron picked up the puck behind his own net and turned on the jets in as good of an end-to-end rush as you will see in the QMJHL. Barron blew past four Titan players before firing a shot far side past the glove of goalie Mark Grametbauer with 2:29 left in regulation. That’s the third consecutive game with a goal for the 17-year-old Halifax native who is considered a top prospect for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Acadie-Bathurst certainly made the most of their opportunities with four goals on 20 shots but the Herd had just enough fire power to take them down with six points coming off the sticks of the Moose defencemen. Jake Ryczek had a big night with a pair of goals and the reigning QMJHL Defenceman of the Month is heating up substantially with 13 points in his last 10 outings. It was a career night for Denis Toner with three assists being credited to the Saint-Andre, NB blueliner. Toner was also a +4 in the game.
Newcomer Maxime Trepanier scored his first goal as a member of the Mooseheads when he knocked one in late in the opening period. Trepanier also had an assist and has seven points in six games since coming over in a trade from Gatineau in late December. Samuel Asselin had the other goal for Halifax which was his team leading 29th.
Ryczek opened the scoring just 2:44 into the contest but the Titan fought back with goals by Anderson MacDonald and Mathieu Samson to take a 2-1 lead around the midway mark of the first period. Trepanier slammed one into an open net after a perfect feed from Toner that left Grametbauer way out of position and the game was tied 2-2 after 20 minutes.
It wasn’t long before Ryczek had his team back in the lead as he continued to cause havoc for the Titan with his mobility and he notched his second goal only 1:22 into the middle period when he skated down the right side and sent a wrist shot through traffic from the bottom of the circle. Acadie-Bathurst clawed back again though as their newly minted Captain Cole Rafuse found the equalizer on the power play at 4:03 and the game was tied 3-3. The score remained tied for approximately 12 minutes until Samuel Asselin finished off a pretty passing play with Antoine Morand and Maxim Trepanier to put the Herd back in front 4-3.
The Moose kept pummeling Grametbauer with shots but it was the Titan who took advantage of their next good opportunity as William Champagne scored on an odd man rush at 7:01 of the third period to even things up at 4-4. With overtime looming though, Justin Barron looked like he didn’t want the game to go any longer and put on his best Bobby Orr impression for the Tuesday night crowd at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre.
The win improves Halifax’s record to 28-8-2-1 and puts the team back in front of Baie-Comeau atop the Eastern Conference standings. Both teams have 59 points but the Mooseheads have a game in hand and are the owners of the better winning percentage at .756.
The Herd were not playing with their full lineup as defencemen Jocktan Chainey and Walter Flower sat out with upper body injuries while Cole McLaren, Jared McIsaac and Samuel Dube were feeling under the weather. Defenceman Curtis Heffernan was called up from the Truro Bearcats and goalie Jonathan Pickrem of the Dartmouth Steele Subaru Major Midgets was on the bench backing up Alex Gravel.
The next game for the Mooseheads is Thursday Night at Scotiabank Centre vs Shawinigan at 7pm. The game is Student Night in Moose Country with $9 tickets for students and free cover at the Dome and Nomad Travel bar after the game. Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or charge by phone 902-451-1221.