The Mooseheads didn’t come away with the result they were hoping for after getting to play in front of their home fans for the first time this season. Cape Breton spoiled the party in downtown Halifax with a 5-2 victory over the Herd in front of a huge crowd of 9,949. That’s the largest attendance for a home opener in the history of the franchise.
The fans came out in droves to see their first place team that was forced to play its first 15 games of the season on the road. They let out their first big cheers of the night when the Moose hit the ice for warm-up and came out dressed in throwback jerseys with the names of some of the greatest players in franchise history on their backs. The team will wear those jerseys during home game warm-ups throughout the season.
That was only the first of two jersey reveals on the night as the Mooseheads players donned another new look during the full team introductions. This one is a vintage inspired 25th Anniversary alternate jersey that will be worn at various times during the season.
Once action got underway Jared McIsaac got Scotiabank Centre rocking with a laser shot that went in and out of the net so quickly that officials needed a review to confirm that he had scored. That put the Moose up 1-0 just 2:53 into the game and it appeared that Halifax would pick up where they had left off with an excellent 12-3 road trip. The lead was short-lived however and it was one the Herd would never regain. Mitchell Balmas tied it 1-1 for Cape Breton when he forced his way through the defense and beat Alex Gravel with a nice shot for his ninth goal of the year. Declan Smith put the visitors in front 2-1 just under two minutes later and the Eagles never looked back.
Isiah Campbell added another goal before the first period was over for a 3-1 advantage after 20 minutes. Halifax put some of the home opener jitters aside and played a much stronger second period but were not able to break through on the second star Kevin Mandolese who made 25 saves in the game. Adam McCormick added some insurance for Cape Breton early in the third period with a shot that squeaked through the pads of Gravel to make it 4-1 and that seemed to dash any hopes of a Mooseheads comeback. The Moose got a little boost of energy when Jake Ryczek let a hard shot go from the point to cut the deficit to 4-2 but it was too little too late. The Ryczek goal came at the exact half-way point of the third period. Head Coach Eric Veilleux opted to lift Gravel fairly early in favour of the extra attacker but a long clearing attempt by Leon Gawanke rolled on it’s side and into the back of the net with 2:04 to play. The Gawanke tally made the final score 5-2 and snapped Halifax’s three game winning streak.
The Mooseheads will play their next two games at home with Val d’Or visiting next Saturday at 7pm and Moncton comes to town the following day at 2pm. Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square Mall or by phone 902-451-1221.