On a night where the Halifax Mooseheads had a watered down version of their roster with several call-ups in the lineup, it was the goaltending of Cole McLaren that stood out despite a 2-1 overtime loss to the Moncton Wildcats.
McLaren made 25 first period saves and finished with 47 as the Mooseheads wrapped up the preseason schedule in front of 1,300 fans at the Halifax Forum.
Nicolas Kingsbury-Fournier was the OT hero for Moncton after scoring on a penalty shot with 33 seconds to go in the extra period. Cole Stewart hooked the Wildcats rookie on a breakaway which led to the call.
Raphael Lavoie provided the early offence for the Mooseheads when he finished off a nice passing play with Xavier Parent and Marcel Barinka by sending a wrist shot from the slot at 14:57 of the first period. The tally was Lavoie’s second of the preseason and gave Barinka a team-leading five points in four games played. The Moose didn’t get much else going on the offensive end of the ice with a total of 17 shots in the game. Cats goalie Charles-Antoine Lavallee made 16 saves to earn the win.
Moncton was stymied time and again by McLaren for more almost 40 minutes before Jeremy McKenna finally got one by the goalie with just 26 remaining in the second period.
The 18-year-old goalie from Annapolis Royal is poised to start the regular season as the backup to incumbent Alex Gravel and has looked more than ready to fill that role since training camp began in mid-August. McLaren was originally drafted by the Herd in 2016 and spent last season gaining experience playing Junior A for the Valley Wildcats of the Maritime Hockey League. He was happy with his performance but would have liked a better outcome.
“It felt pretty good playing at home in Halifax but in the end we still lost the game so it doesn’t matter how many saves I make,” he said.
McLaren feels his body of work throughout training camp and the preseason is enough to show the Mooseheads management that he is the right choice to tandem with Gravel.
“For sure. I came into camp this year and heard all of the trade speculation about bringing in a 20-year-old, bringing in an older goalie and I think this was a good game for me to showcase how I can play.”
The Mooseheads still have eight players away at NHL training camps and were forced to make nine call-ups. Drafted players Jonathan Pickrem, Sonny Kabatay, Cole Larkin and Zachary Byard were called up along with free agents Liam MacKinnon, Matthew Raike, Brock McLeod, Ian Watt and Fearghus MacDonald.
Next up for the Mooseheads is the regular season opener on Friday night in Saint John. Halifax will play 15 games on the road before the much anticipated home opener on Saturday, October 27th versus Cape Breton. Individual Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, October 3rd at 11:00am at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square Mall or by calling 902-451-1221.
Mooseheads 2018-19 Season Ticket Memberships and 15-Game Packs are on sale now at TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or by calling 451-1221.