Fortier Triggers the Teddy Bears and a Win for the Mooseheads
A big crowd gathered at Scotiabank Centre for Saturday night’s Teddy Bear Toss game in Halifax and the hometown Mooseheads (31-11-5-1) didn’t let them down in an entertaining 5-2 victory over the Saint John Sea Dogs.
8,518 spectators were itching to toss their teddy bears in support of Ronald McDonald House Atlantic and they didn’t have to wait too long. Bears came flying from the rafters as Captain Max Fortier got the Mooseheads on the board midway through the opening period to tie the score 1-1 and that was just the beginning of a big night from the veteran forward. Fortier added another goal and assisted on two others including a perfect feed to Otto Somppi for the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period.
“We had a good start like usual, but they worked hard and their goalie was hot. I think we did the same thing and our skills took over and it worked out good,” the first star Fortier said.
Sea Dogs goalie Matt Williams faced plenty of rubber and kept his team in the game for most of the night. He made 35 saves including 18 in the first period and was named the third star of the game.
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) January 27, 2018
Halifax took a 2-1 lead with 16 seconds to go before the end of the opening period when Blade Mann-Dixon made a terrific glove save for the Mooseheads and kept the play alive by tossing the puck forward. The Herd quickly moved the puck up the ice and Arnaud Durandeau wrapped around from behind Williams to tuck one in for his 15th goal of the season.
Saint John was able to push back thanks to some penalty trouble from the Mooseheads in the middle stanza. Raphael Lavoie was handed a four-minute double minor for high sticking and Jocktan Chainey went to the box for holding to give the Sea Dogs and extended two-man advantage. Kevin Gursoy quickly scored on the power play to tie the game 2-2 at the 16:08 mark for the only goal of the period.
The final 20 minutes belonged to the Mooseheads as they turned up the pressure in the offensive zone, putting 15 shots on net and scoring three times. Fortier put a perfect pass across the ice from left to right, finding Otto Somppi early in the period for the difference making goal in the game. The Captain later scored his second of the night and 23rd of the year with 5:52 to play on a nice toe drag, short side snipe on Williams. The play began when Somppi, the game’s second star, dropped the puck to Jared McIsaac who crossed the blueline and dropped again for Fortier and the big crowd was loving it. Then in the final minute of action and the Saint John net empty Fortier chased down a loose puck and unselfishly passed off to Raphael Lavoie who calmly put one into the gaping cage to seal the victory.
Blade Mann-Dixon had to be sharp at times in the Halifax crease and came up with some crucial saves, many with his slick glove hand to secure his 20th victory between the pipes this season. The Antigonish native stopped 23 of 25 shots fired his way in the win.
Halifax played without star forward Filip Zadina who sat out the first of a two-game suspension. Defencemen Cooper Jones and Ryan Barbosa were the healthy scratches. Fortier, Joel Bishop and Justin Barron all returned from injuries. Barron had been out since New Year’s Eve with an upper body injury, Bishop hadn’t played since suffering a cut on the head against Moncton on January, 17th and Fortier had missed one full game after he left the January 19th contest against Cape Breton with a lower body injury.
The Mooseheads and Sea Dogs will do it all over again on Sunday afternoon at 3pm at Scotiabank Centre in a rare back-to-back matchup in Halifax. Another large crowd is expected but there are still good seats available. 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.