Mikhail Denisov was the difference in a good old fashioned goaltender’s duel on Wednesday night in Shawinigan. The Cataractes goalie made 35 saves through regulation and overtime and then stopped all three Mooseheads in the shootout to give his team a 3-2 victory.
Shawinigan picked up just its ninth win of the season and remains in last place but the home team worked hard to earn the two points and is just the latest example that any team can win on any given night. After Slovenian import player Jan Drozg beat Alex Gravel with the Cataractes’ third attempt in the shootout, the first star Denisov stopped Mooseheads sniper Filip Zadina to secure the win in front of 3,806 fans at the Centre Gervais Auto.
Gravel did yeoman’s work at the other end of the ice all game long and finished with 30 saves en route to being named the third star. The NHL draft eligible goalie had his second straight solid performance for the Herd and helped his team pick up one point to kick off a four-game road trip which ties Halifax with Acadie-Bathurst with 39 points atop the Maritimes Division.
The Mooseheads fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the game when Filip Zadina and Arnaud Durandeau tallied just 1:22 apart in the second period. Zadina notched his 23rd of the season when he ripped in a short-handed marker following an Otto Somppi pass off a turnover. The Czech rookie continues to lead the Mooseheads in scoring with 44 points and is three behind league leader Alex Barre-Boulet of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. With the Halifax pressure continuing in the second period Durandeau picked up his fifth goal in the last five games with a high backhander from in tight on Denisov. Jocktan Chainey got the assist on Durandeau’s 11th of the season. Shawinigan had jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Simon Benoit and Jeremy Martin.
The opening period was controlled by the Cataractes who out-shot the Herd 12-7 but the Mooseheads were a much better team the rest of the way and dominated puck possession and shots for much of the game. The Halifax power play didn’t have much luck as the team went 0-5 with the man advantage while Shawinigan scored once in six opportunities. These teams will meet again on Sunday, February 11th in Halifax. The man advantage is an area targeted for improvement for the Moose who are only scoring at a rate of 17.9 percent (22 for 123) which is 14th in the QMJHL. Meantime the penalty kill has been impressive all season and is third best in the league at 82.8 percent (120 for 145).
Halifax played the majority of the game without key forward Connor Moynihan who was given the gate in the first period. Moynihan was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding after he hit defenceman Jason Horvath. The Mooseheads’ 20-year-old was appearing in his 272nd career game which tied him with Frederic Belanger for fourth in team history. Next on the list for Moynihan to track down is Travis Randell at 316 games played.
The road trip continues Friday night in Val d’Or when the Moose have a rematch from last weekend against the Foreurs at 8:30pm AST. Halifax downed Val d’Or 4-2 on Saturday behind a first star performance by Alex Gravel. The Mooseheads will then travel to Rouyn-Noranda for a sold-out game against the Huskies on Saturday at 8pm. Halifax thumped Rouyn-Noranda 6-2 last Friday at Scotiabank Centre.
The next Mooseheads home game at Scotiabank Centre will be held Friday, December 15th at 7pm vs Acadie-Bathurst. Halifax will also host Cape Breton on Saturday, December 16th 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.