Captain Clutch – Lavoie gives Moose another OT win
Raphael Lavoie and the Mooseheads are writing quite an incredible story in the first month of 2018. The 17-year-old forward scored his second overtime winner in as many days and Halifax fought back to beat the Wildcats 4-3 at the Moncton Coliseum on Saturday night. The victory is the eighth in a row for the Mooseheads who moved ahead of Blainville-Boisbriand for top spot in the QMJHL standings while Lavoie is enjoying an unbelievable personal hot streak. The big forward now has nine goals in seven games and 16 total points over that span. He has scored the game-winning goal in four of the last five games.
Moncton hadn’t played in a week and Halifax was finishing off a stretch of three games in three days but the Mooseheads had the legs to keep up with the Wildcats all night long. The teams consistently traded chances back and forth in some fast paced action with Blade Mann-Dixon grabbing the victory with 31 saves.
Halifax is perfect in the month of January with the winning streak dating back to Saturday, December 30th against Cape Breton. The Mooseheads fell behind early in this game as a clearing attempt caromed off an official near the boards and bounced to a wide open James Phelan in the slot and he scored his first goal in a Moncton uniform just 75 seconds into the opening period. He was added in a trade from Val d’Or during the trade period, only four days after the Foreurs picked up Phelan from Victoriaville.
The score remained 1-0 in favour of the Wildcats until Ben Higgins pulled the Mooseheads even just under two minutes into the second period. The Truro native got his second goal in four games when he jammed away at the side of the net and was able to sneak one by goalie Mark Grametbauer. Higgins had his best output of the season as he later added two assists to earn the second star of the game nod. He chipped in on Joel Bishop’s go ahead tally 2:12 later but the Herd lead didn’t last long as Phelan’s second of the night tied the game 2-2 on the power play only 50 seconds after the Mooseheads’ goal.
The Cats regained the lead not long before the horn ended the middle period. Jeremy McKenna sniped his 23rd of the season at 18:56 and the Coliseum crowd of 5,412 was charged up in the Hub city. The Mooseheads got into some penalty trouble in the third period but it didn’t come back to haunt them. They killed off a four-minute double minor to Otto Somppi and actually had the best chances offensively when Moncton was on a two-man advantage. The Herd survived the four straight penalty calls against and got an enormous lift from defenceman Patty Kyte who just about jumped out of his skates as he buried a shot after a crossing pass from Connor Moynihan. The goal tied the game 3-3 with 3:04 remaining in regulation as the Mooseheads continued to show the league that they do not quit in a hockey game. Halifax killed off another penalty in the overtime and Jake Ryczek made a perfect backhand drop pass to Lavoie just inside the blue line that confused the Moncton defenders and Lavoie walked in between the circles to bury a perfect shot top corner to win it.
Four of the last six wins of the victory streak have come in overtime and Lavoie has three of them. The Mooseheads’ record sits at 29-10-4-1 and they lead the Maritimes Division by a full 10 points over second place Charlottetown. The Wildcats are now 23 points behind Halifax with a 16-19-5-3 record.
The teams will meet in a rematch at Scotiabank Centre on Wednesday night at 7pm. 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.