They can’t all be textbook wins and Sunday’s 6-5 squeaker in Acadie-Bathurst certainly wasn’t but the Halifax Mooseheads will gladly take their two points and head home after a key victory over the Titan.
The Mooseheads got a huge last minute goal from Filip Zadina, who was playing in his first game back following the World Junior Hockey Championship, to pull out the win and surviving a scare from Bathurst. Halifax went into the third period with a 5-1 lead but watched as the Titan tallied four times in a span of 7:45 to tie the game 5-5. The Zadina goal came as a huge relief and the Mooseheads improved to 26-10-4-1 to open up a seven point lead on both the Titan and Charlottetown Islanders for the Maritimes Division lead. The Herd also reclaimed top spot in the overall QMJHL standings for now as Blainville-Boisbriand fell to Shawinigan. Halifax’s 57 points is one better than the Armada although the Mooseheads have played three more games.
Raphael Lavoie continues his hot streak with a huge four-point afternoon on two goals and two assists. He has picked up seven points in his last three games and has moved into fourth in team scoring with 36 points on the season. He assisted on Ben Higgins’ opening goal at 4:33 of the first period and added a power play marker prior to the midway point of the period. Max Fortier notched his 21st of the season and Halifax was of and running with a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
With Evan Fitzpatrick taking over for starting goalie Joseph Murdaca, Halifax took a commanding 4-0 lead when Lavoie struck again just 48 seconds into the second period and it looked to be a route for the Herd. The teams traded goals and it was 5-1 Moose heading to the third period. That’s when things to a drastic change with some of Bathurst’s newest players making an impact. Defenceman Olivier Galipeau, playing in just his second game since being acquired from Chicoutimi, scored back to back goals to cut the Halifax lead to 5-3 and then assisted on German Rubstov’s power play tally at 11:14 to make it a 5-4 game. Jeffrey Viel netted the equalizer 21 seconds later and it was suddenly a brand new hockey game. The Mooseheads battled through a few more tense moments and Blade Mann-Dixon didn’t allow anything else to get by him as he faced 19 shots in the final period alone to finish with 42 saves on 47 shots and Zadina came through in the clutch to secure the win.
The Mooseheads converted on their only power play in the game while the Titan had just two chances with the man advantage as the teams stayed quite disciplined in their fifth meeting of the season. Halifax has scored on the power play in seven straight games. Four players had multi-point efforts for the Moose with Lavoie’s four points leading the way. Max Fortier scored once and added two assists as he surpassed Jonathan Drouin for third place in franchise scoring with 243 career points. Benoit-Olivier Groulx picked up a pair of assists while Zadina had a goal an an assist. Zadina and Fortier are now tied for the team scoring lead with 48 points and are tied for second in QMJHL scoring behind Alex Barre-Boulet’s of Blainville who is pulling away with 67 points. Connor Moynihan had Halifax’s fifth goal while Jake Ryczek, Jared McIsaac, and Jocktan Chainey had the other assists. Galipeau (2), Rubstov, Viel and Cole Rafuse were the goal scorers for Acadie-Bathurst. Joseph Murdaca left the game at 13:18 of the first period after allowing four goals on seven shots. Fitzpatrick allowed three goals on 21 shots the rest of the way.
The Mooseheads and Drummondville Voltigeurs are the hottest teams in the QMJHL right now with both clubs riding five-game winning streaks. Halifax returns to home ice on Thursday night against the Charlottetown Islanders on student night at Scotiabank Centre where there will be a special welcome back ceremony for Filip Zadina. 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.