The Mooseheads knew they were in tough against a formidable opponent on Friday night when they traveled to Charlottetown to face the streaking Islanders but that didn’t stop the young squad from putting up an excellent fight in a 4-3 loss to a team that’s near the top of the overall standings.
With 20-year-old veterans Jake Coughler and Keigan Goetz both in the stands with injuries, the Mooseheads went back and forth with the high powered Islanders lineup all evening and a power play goal by Ben Higgins with 6:55 remaining in regulation pulled Halifax even for the first time since the second period to give the hard-working team a fighting chance with the score sitting at 3-3. The Isles are lethal this season in one-goal games however and would not be denied as defenceman Nicolas Meloche pinched in and took a pass in front of the net, beating Alex Gravel with a high shot over the glove a little more than a minute after the Higgins tally. Meloche’s 11th of the season stood up as the game-winner and Charlottetown improved to 14-0-3-1 in games decided by one goal this season.
Two of the Islanders goals came on the power play as Halifax handed the home team seven chances with the man advantage compared to just two for the Herd. Barrett Dachyshyn, back in the lineup for the first time since suffering an upper body injury on December 17th, took a costly slashing penalty with just 3:42 remaining in regulation to squash any real chance at a Mooseheads comeback. Despite the defeat, the 18-year-old was happy to return to the ice.
“After being out as long as I was it felt nice to be back on the bus and in the dressing room with all the boys. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
The Halifax native has actually been dealing with injuries to both his shoulder and collar-bone that have kept him out for the better part of two month. Dachyshyn was proud of the team effort on the road against a top-tier team in Charlottetown.
“We played a hard fought game against a very skilled team but in the end it was the little mistakes that led to opportunities for them and they capitalized.”
Alex Gravel was heavily relied upon in this one and came up with 35 saves on the 39 shots he faced, while the Moose fired 26 shots at Islanders goalie Mark Grametbauer.
Charlottetown opened the scoring a little more than five minutes into the opening period when Ottawa Senators draft pick Filip Chlapik cashed in on the power play for his 29th goal of the season. Halifax answered back as Cooper Jones crashed the net a relayed in a good crossing pass by Joel Bishop exactly one minute later. Jones played well in the loss and was named the third star. The Bridgewater, MA native has been transitioned to the forward position since Christmas and feels like he’s starting to settle in on the right wing.
“I think I’ve been getting more and more comfortable each game and it feels good to be able to help the team in whatever way I can,” he said.
The Mooseheads took their only lead of the night 2-1 when Connor Moynihan stick handled around a defender in the slot and ripped a shot by Grametbauer midway through the period. First star of the game Daniel Sprong turned things around for the 2,326 home fans at the Eastlink Centre with back-to-back goals spanning the second and third periods as Charlottetown jumped back in front 3-2.
Jones believes the result might have been different had the Moose been able to stay out of the sin bin.
“The PK was good tonight and the boys got the job done on most of them. The penalties were tilted one way but we can’t blames the referees, we just needed to be more disciplined.”
Otto Somppi picked up an assist in the loss to extend his point scoring streak to eight games during which he has compiled 12 points. Jared McIsaac, Joel Bishop, Jocktan Chainey, Max Fortier and Arnaud Durandeau had the other Mooseheads assists.
Cole McLaren was called up prior to the game to serve as the backup goaltender as Blade Mann-Dixon is now sidelined with a lower body injury. Other regulars not in the lineup included; Coughler, Goetz and Raphael Lavoie who is still out with a suspension.
The next game for the Mooseheads is Sunday afternoon on home ice at 3:00pm when they entertain the third place overall Shawinigan Cataractes. Samuel Girard and his Cataractes team have had an extremely strong season and are looking for a deep run in the President Cup Playoffs this spring.
Tickets for Sunday’s game are available now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or by phone at 902-451-1221.