The Charlottetown Islanders stole the opening game of the second round President Cup playoff series against the Halifax Mooseheads at Scotiabank Centre on Friday night as Pascal Aquin tipped in the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory.
Aquin netted his seventh of the postseason at 8:58 of the extra period when he redirected a point shot through traffic that beat Alex Gravel. Getting traffic was key for the Islanders as Gravel was hard to beat as he has been the entire postseason. The Mooseheads goalie made 38 saves and entered the game with the second best save percentage in the QMJHL playoffs at .944 to go along with a minuscule 1.81 goals against average. Gravel was bested by Matt Welsh who managed 41 saves for the win.
“They play really hard and have a very good identity and I think as forwards we have to play better and put pucks behind them,” said second star Xavier Parent.
The Mooseheads rookie was a spark plug yet again while scoring his third goal of the postseason in the loss and creating chances on offense throughout the game.
Halifax went 7-1-1 versus Charlottetown in the regular season but nobody expected an easy series, especially since this was the fourth time in 10 meetings that the teams have needed overtime to decide an outcome. The Mooseheads were a bit slow out of the gate but still picked up the game’s first goal when Connor Moynihan deflected a Jocktan Chainey shot at 14:50 of the first period on the man advantage. The Isles bounced back with a power play goal of their own just under three minutes later as Bridgewater’s Keith Getson got the first of his two goals to tie the game 1-1 after the first period.
“I think they just came out hard and wanted it more but we’ll definitely come ready to play tomorrow,” said Halifax rookie defenceman Justin Barron.
After a scoreless second period, Charlottetown grabbed its first lead of the game just 42 seconds into the third when Nikita Alexandrov cashed in at the side of the net for a 2-1 Isles advantage. Parent was able to pull the Moose even again 2-2 and Filip Zadina put Halifax in front 3-2 at 6:19 and the 7,456 fans were as loud as they’d been all night. Traffic in front was once again a factor when Charlottetown got the equalizer later in the period. The first star Getson was the man to get it when a shot deflected twice to get by Gravel.
“The more traffic there is the more difficult it is for our goalie to see the puck so we need to get in there and pick up guys and lift sticks,” Barron said.
The Mooseheads were once again without star Otto Somppi who missed his fifth consecutive game with an injury that he suffered in Game 1 versus Baie-Comeau. Rookie Gavin Hart played on the fourth line after being called up from the Truro Bearcats.
Halifax will have a chance to even the series Saturday night at 7pm in Game 2 when the teams meet again at Scotiabank Centre. 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.