There was a feeling even before puck drop that this meeting with Moncton meant a little something extra to the fans and the Mooseheads players. The crowd was raucous from beginning to end and it helped as the Mooseheads skated to an important 2-0 victory over the Moncton Wildcats to climb into first place in the Maritimes Division.
“The game took a minute or two to start and the fans kept going ‘Go Moose Go’ and it’s like our 6th player. We’re super lucky to have that and we’re really grateful,” said first star Alex Gravel.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ goalie prospect was outstanding in the victory for Halifax as he made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season while improving on some impressive statistics. Gravel’s goals against average was lowered to 2.57 and his save percentage now sits at .917.
It was Teddy Bear Toss night at the rink which is always a fun event and fans once again went above and beyond in support of Ronald McDonald House Atlantic and other local charities with an enormous haul of stuffed animals. They patiently waited as the Mooseheads and Wildcats played to a scoreless first period but were able to make it rain bears early in the middle frame when BO Groux knocked in a rebound off a Raphael Lavoie shot at the side of the Moncton net at the 3:37 mark. Groulx celebrated with his teammates as the bears began to pour over the glass with local minor hockey teams, Steele Ford Lincoln and Halifax Regional Police coming out to help bag them up.
Lavoie’s assist was the highlight of an extraordinary day for the 2019 NHL Draft eligible forward. He was released from Hockey Canada’s World Junior selection camp in the wee hours of the morning in Victoria, BC and hopped on a cross country flight with the intention of suiting up for the Mooseheads. His flight landed shortly after 6pm at Halifax Stanfield International Airport and he arrived just as the puck dropped. The 7,716 fans let out a roar as he was shown on the big screen running to the dressing room with his gear.
“All day I was travelling. I didn’t eat a lot because I needed to catch my flight but I wanted to be here with the guys,” Lavoie said.
He was among the first four cuts made at the camp but as one of the youngest players to attend, he has nothing to hang his head about. Mooseheads teammate Jared McIsaac was named as one of the seven defenceman to crack the Canadian roster later on Friday night.
Following the Groulx goal the Mooseheads seemed to take control of the momentum and they outshot the Cats 27-19 in the final two periods of play. Gravel kept his team in the lead with a number of key saves as the fans got louder and louder each time he stopped the puck. He stoned star rookie Elliot Desnoyers for the second time in the game at the 12:45 mark of the third period which led to a Moose rush and Samuel Asselin scoring an insurance marker just 10 seconds later. Asselin’s goal was his team-leading 23rd of the season.
“We’re really happy to beat the Wildcats, they’re one of our biggest rivals. We had a slow start but we showed that we have character and we came back strong,” Gravel said.
Halifax (23-7-1-1) now has 48 points to leapfrog Moncton (22-10-2-1) by one point and the Mooseheads also have three games in hand. There is one game remaining before the Christmas break as the Mooseheads play host to the Charlottetown Islanders on Saturday 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 charge by phone 902-451-1221.