Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies had a playoff vibe to it but was equally frustrating and costly for the Halifax Mooseheads. The Moose surrendered a 3-1 lead to the QMJHL’s best team and also suffered injuries to defencemen Jared McIsaac and Jake Ryczek.
Halifax led built a 2-0 lead just 2:37 into the game as they came out of the gate flying against the Huskies. Arnaud Durandeau scored on a pretty individual effort 104 seconds after the puck dropped and Brock McLeod added another to force Rouyn-Noranda to use their time-out in the early stages of the game and the home side was in control. The Huskies got one back to cut the lead the 2-1 late in the period.
It wasn’t long after the goal from Alex Beaucage that things got worse for the Mooseheads. Jared McIsaac was exiting his own end and was hit hard on the knee by Joel Teasdale moments after McIsaac sent the puck out of the zone. McIsaac was airborne as the hit occurred and went down hard. He was helped off the ice by teammates and didn’t appear to be able to put any weight on one leg. The team initially ruled him out for the game but McIsaac did return for the third period but was clearly hampered by the injury. He was receiving treatment immediately following the game and his status will be updated early in the week.
Walter Flower jumped to the defense of McIsaac after the hit and dropped the gloves with Teasdale and the game took a physical turn for the rest of the afternoon. Keith Getson extended the Mooseheads’ lead to 3-1 when he buried a shot after an excellent pass by Antoine Morand and the 8,500+ fans were feeling good. Jake Ryczek was then forced to the dressing room with an upper body injury and also attempted a return to start the third period but left again after just one shift. He could be seen in a sling following the game.
The Huskies took advantage of the tired and depleted Halifax defense corps with second period goals from Teasdale and Louis-Filip Cote to tie the match 3-3. Rouyn-Noranda could have had the lead by that point if not for some spectacular saves from Alex Gravel who finished with 33 saves in the game. The Moose fell behind for the first time just 1:31 into the third period when Samuel Regis found the puck on his stick after a scramble in front of Gravel and he had enough time and space to lift one high up under the bar for a 4-3 Huskies lead. Halifax responded nicely just 87 seconds later when Xavier Parent pulled his club even with a spin around backhand through traffic.
The two points were there for the taking but it was the Huskies who were able to come up with one more clutch goal. Import rookie Jakub Lauko, a Boston Bruins draft pick, notched what turned out to be the winner at the 14:49 mark. The Moose pressed in the final minutes with Gravel on the bench for the extra attacker but to no avail. It’s the second consecutive loss for Halifax to drop the record to 29-10-2-1 on the season while Rouyn-Noranda picked up a fifth straight win and is the first team in the QMJHL to break the 70-point plateau this season with a 35-7-0-1 record.
Final shots were 38-28 Huskies while both teams went 0-4 on the power play.
GM Cam Russell said both Ryczek and McIsaac will continue to be checked out but their status for the Mooseheads road game Wednesday in Acadie-Bathurst remains up in the air. That game begins at 7pm.
Halifax returns to home ice on Friday night for another meeting with the Titan in the annual Pink in the Rink game in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. The Mooseheads’ special pink jerseys will be raffled off during the game.
Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or charge by phone 902-451-1221.