Heartbreak on the Island
The Halifax Mooseheads boarded the bus outside Charlottetown’s Eastlink Centre feeling like they wasted an opportunity against the Islanders. The Moose never trailed in regulation but things came to a crashing halt as P-O Joseph tied the game 2-2 with 7.7 seconds remaining in the third period and then Nikita Alexandrov netted the overtime winner on a rebound just 27 seconds into the extra frame to give the home team a 3-2 victory.
The Islanders are building a reputation for their never-quit style of play and that rang true in this game. The Mooseheads opened up a 2-0 lead in the first period when Otto Somppi tipped in a Max Fortier pass on the power play at 5:52 and Fortier later scored a miraculous short handed goal with his team down two men on the five-on-three penalty kill. The Moose handed the Islanders a frustrating opening period but Jim Hulton’s team fought back in the middle stanza, holding the Herd to five shots and picking away at the lead. Sam King got Charlottetown on the board when he stabbed away at the side of the net and eventually pushed the puck passed Alex Gravel at the 3:18 mark. That would be the only scoring until Joseph’s tying goal in the dying seconds. Both teams had spurts but the Islanders really poured on the pressure with goalie Matt Welsh on the bench in favour of the extra attacker. Final shots were 34-33 for Charlottetown. The Islanders (14-8-1-0) have now won 13 of their last 15 games as they continue to exceed expectations.
Penalties were a major storyline on Friday night as the Mooseheads were forced to go to the penalty kill 10 times with included a pair of long five-on-three situations. Halifax killed off all 10 Islanders power plays, while the Mooseheads cashed in once in just three man advantage opportunities.
Alexandrov earned the first star for his game winning goal which came when he skated out in front of Gravel and lifted a backhand shot over the goalie who was moving in the opposite direction. Max Fortier was the second star. He had one goal and one assist as did Otto Somppi and Jared McIsaac contributed two helpers. The third star was Matt Welsh who ended with 31 saves. Alex Gravel also had 31 stops in the loss.
Somppi appeared to have opened the scoring not long before his actual power play goal very early in the first period when he deflected a shot that beat Welsh but the officiating crew took an extended look at the play and eventually ruled that it had been offside.
The Mooseheads (14-7-4-0) will take their point and head for Saint John, NB where they will square off with the Sea Dogs on Saturday night at 7pm at Harbour Station. Halifax also visits Acadie-Bathurst on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. The Titan took over first place in the Maritimes Division with a 6-1 thumping of Cape Breton earlier in the night.
The next home game at Scotiabank Centre is scheduled for Friday, December 1st vs Rouyn-Noranda while the Mooseheads will also host Val d’Or on Saturday, Decemer 2nd in the first ever Nurse Appreciation Night. Both games are 7pm starts. 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.