Make it two straight wins to start the season for the Halifax Mooseheads as they slipped by the Islanders 3-2 on the road in Charlottetown on Saturday afternoon. Maxime Fortier continued his torrid pace to begin the year with his third goal in two games, while Raphael Lavoie also found the scoresheet and Connor Moynihan earned the game-winning goal in his first game of the season after returning from a suspension. The Islanders fall to 0-2 on the season with the loss.
“It’s still early in the season and there’s a lot of things we need to tidy up but we’re really happy,” Head Coach Jim Midgley said.
Goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon was handed the starting job between the pipes against his former team and was sharp with 31 saves. It was the first regular season game for Mann-Dixon since going down with an injury on February 5th of last season.
“It always feels good to go on the road and come home with four points. It’s huge for our confidence as a group,” Mann-Dixon said.
Head Coach Jim Midgley turned to the 20-year-old less than 48 hours after Alex Gravel earned the first star in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs. Mann-Dixon thinks his experience combined with the talent of Gravel will be make for a good tandem for the Mooseheads this season.
“We push each other everyday and will continue to do that all year to give our team a chance to win each night.”
A dominating first period on Saturday helped stake the Moose to a 2-0 lead on goals 1:05 apart from Lavoie and Fortier and Halifax had the Isles on their heels when the buzzer sounded with the shots 14-8 in favour of the Herd. Arnaud Durandeau did the majority of the work on the Fortier goal as he skated around the net and tossed the puck in front where Fortier was waiting to snap in a one-timer. Durandeau was playing in his first game since returning to the team from New York Islanders training camp late Friday night.
Charlottetown came back with a hard-working effort in the second period and found a way to fight back and tie the game 2-2. Finnish defenceman Saku Vesterinen skated into a loose puck at the top of the circle and sent a slap shot through some traffic to beat Mann-Dixon at the 11:58 mark. Second star Taylor Egan pulled the Isles even just 1:29 later and the teams were back to square one.
The score stayed that way until big Connor Moynihan took a pass from Filip Zadina and jammed the puck behind goalie Matt Welsh on a wrap around play. The assist was Zadina’s second of the game and third point in two games as he was named the third star. Welsh made 33 saves in the defeat. Second year forward Raphael Lavoie earned the first star and was very effective throughout the game. The Chambly, QC native who will turn 17-year-old in a couple of days finished with a +2 rating on the night, had three shots on goal and won seven of his 12 faceoffs.
“Raph’s goal was a great goal. He showed great hands, great patience and he was just inside the circle there and goes top-shelf,” Midgley stated.
After going 3-for-3 with the man advantage in the opening game, the Mooseheads were scoreless in three opportunities in this contest but also held Charlottetown without a power play goal in four chances. Halifax has killed off 10 of 11 penalties so far this season.
Denis Toner was called up from the Woodstock Slammers to play in place of defenceman Jared McIsaac who sat out after getting hurt in the first period of Thursday’s meeting in Saint John. The upper-body injury to McIsaac isn’t deemed serious and he is listed as day-to-day. Toner was paired with Cooper Jones on the blueline and had three shots on goal. The Mooseheads got more good news on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they are returning forward Otto Somppi to the club. Somppi has been recovering from shoulder surgery and is not ready to resume game action yet but he is getting close. The Mooseheads will return home for a few days before visiting the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Wednesday at 7pm. The teams will finish the home and home series in Halifax’s home opener next Saturday night at 7pm at Scotiabank Centre. The Mooseheads will also host the Islanders the following day at 3pm. The Sunday matchup is poster day at the rink with collectable Mooseheads posters available for the first 3,000 fans in the building.
Individual tickets are on sale at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, the Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square, www.TicketAtlantic.com or charge by phone 451-1221.
Get your 2017-18 Season Tickets, 15-Game Packs and 6-Game Packs by visiting the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square Mall, by email email@example.com, or call 902-429-FANS.