Rookie Xavier Parent potted two goals on Saturday afternoon as the Mooseheads (22-10-4-1) wrapped up the 2017 home schedule in style with a 5-2 victory over rival Cape Breton (16-17-2-1) in Game 1 of the Hurley Cup. The win is the sixth in seven games versus the Screaming Eagles this season and increases Halifax’s Maritimes Division lead to three points over Charlottetown and Acadie-Bathurst.
Halifax scored three times in the second period and twice in the third while goalie Alex Gravel slammed the door with 29 saves in the first leg of the battle for Nova Scotia Junior hockey supremacy. The Hurley Cup was introduced last season and saw Cape Breton sweep the home-and-home series to claim the trophy. The winner of the annual holiday series will be decided on aggregate scoring. Goals scored in the opponents building will serve as the first tie-breaker.
“It felt good and we’re just looking at tomorrow night now to seal the deal,” said defenceman and second star of the game Jake Ryczek.
The teams were looking good in their special blue and white Nova Scotia-themed jerseys as the Eagles opened the scoring in the final minute of the first period. Phelix Martineau made a hard pass from the right corner to the left circle where Brooklyn Kalmikov sent a one-timer by Gravel.
The Mooseheads put the slow start behind them quickly as they took control in the middle stanza. Parent got the team on the board when his shot to the front of the net deflected off a Cape Breton defender who was battling with Joel Bishop. Halifax kept the pressure coming on the power play as Otto Somppi drilled in a one-timer less than two minutes later for a lead the team would not relinquish.
Connor Moynihan had 8,902 fans dancing when he flipped a back-hand shot behind Kyle Jessiman before the period was over and the Mooseheads held a 3-1 advantage after 40 minutes. That’s Moynihan’s team-leading sixth goal versus Cape Breton this season. The newly acquired Ryczek collected his first career assist on the Moynihan goal.
“I thought we played good. I though we were hard on pucks and pressured their D (defense) hard. It was just an overall good win,” Ryczek said.
The Eagles briefly cut the Mooseheads lead down to one goal when a Leon Gawanke point shot got through to beat Gravel midway through the third period but Xavier Parent sealed his fate as first star of the game when he made no mistake on a nice pass in front by Ben Higgins for an all-important insurance goal at the 15:10 mark. It was all Mooseheads the rest of the way and Benoit-Olivier Groulx got the clubs’ second power play goal of the night 1:14 later to round out the scoring. Alex Gravel was sharp from start to finish to earn the third star of the game and the teams quickly packed their buses and headed for Sydney where the Hurley Cup series, and the year 2017 will finish up Sunday afternoon at 2pm at Centre 200. You can catch the action on News 95.7 with play by play host Garreth MacDonald.
The next home game for the Mooseheads is set for Thursday, January 11th when the Herd will entertain the Charlottetown Islanders in a big divisional matchup. 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.