The 2017 calendar year will end with the Mooseheads in first place in the Maritimes Division and with the team being crowned Hurley Cup Champions. Halifax got one goal and two assists from first star Raphael Lavoie and the Herd skated to a 4-1 victory over Cape Breton at Centre 200 in Sydney.
Lavoie paced the attack as the Mooseheads swept the two-game series for provincial bragging rights while Max Fortier, Jake Ryczek and Patty Kyte also lit the lamp. The Moose scored a 5-2 win in Saturday’s opener at Scotiabank Centre. The latest win improves Halifax’s division-best record to 23-10-4-1 which is good for 51 points, one back of Blainville-Boisbriand for first overall in the QMJHL. Goalie Alex Gravel posted his fifth consecutive victory and his fifth over the Screaming Eagles this season with 35 saves.
Captain Max Fortier got his team going in the first period off a nice passing play with Xavier Parent and Raphael Lavoie and Halifax had a one goal lead after 20 minutes. Mathias Laferriere pulled the home team even 1-1 at 7:25 of the second period the crowd of 4,313 was brought to life. A few minutes later Fortier went slightly out of character and dropped the gloves with Declan Smith as the battle of Nova Scotia intensified. The Halifax Captain was assessed an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct to go along with his fighting major as Cape Breton went on the man advantage. Gravel held the fort and the Mooseheads seemed to gain a spark from the successful penalty kill.
The visitors picked up the pace on offense right away and newcomer Jake Ryczek notched his first QMJHL career goal with 3:59 to play in the period with what turned out to be the game winner. Lavoie passed the puck cross-ice from the half wall and found Ryczek who sent a wrist shot through some traffic to beat Kevin Mandolese. Patty Kyte added an insurance marker before the end of the period off a drop pass by Xavier Parent, who collected four points in the Hurley Cup series, and the Mooseheads had a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Lavoie capped his first star performance by finishing off the prettiest goal of the afternoon which started when Jared McIsaac carried the puck over the blue-line, dished to Connor Moynihan who dropped it for Kyte and the defenceman slid it to his left and big Raphael buried the opportunity. Parent, Lavoie and Otto Somppi each had a pair of assists in the win as Halifax outscored Cape Breton 9-3 in the two games to grab the second annual Hurley Cup. The Screaming Eagles won the inaugural edition last season with wins in both games.
Final shots in Sunday’s game were 36-35 in favour of the Screaming Eagles as Gravel bested his NHL draft eligible counterpart Mandolese who took the loss with 31 saves. Cape Breton goal scorer Mathias Laferriere was named the second star and Otto Somppi earned third star honours. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect now leads the QMJHL with +/- rating of +26 and he is tied for second in the league with 28 assists.
The Mooseheads have won five of their last six games heading into the new year which will begin with a road game versus the Moncton Wildcats on Tuesday night at 7pm. 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.