Not unlike a pair of old rivals in the wild west, tonight’s meeting between provincial foes came down to a shootout in Halifax. Goalies Alex Gravel of the Mooseheads and Kevin Mandolese of the Screaming Eagles turned aside shooter after shooter until Ryan Francis finally beat Gravel in the fifth round to give the visitors a 3-2 victory.
The shootout wasn’t without some controversy however. Antoine Morand was the very first shooter and beat Mandolese after whiffing on his first attempt but never making contact with the puck. The officials said no goal much to the dismay of the coaches and players on the Mooseheads bench who pleaded their case but to no avail.
“What I tired was to fake a shot and then go wide but I kind of lost the puck but I retrieved it before crossing the goal line and put it on net and it went in,” Morand explained after the game.
The Halifax Captain said he was surprised that it didn’t count.
“I don’t know what the rule is about it. They said it was a shot attempt but in my opinion a fake shot is the same thing as a shot attempt you know but I won’t comment on that and I’ll let the league check it.”
The teams were scoreless through 40 minutes in a very defensive minded game by both sides but play seemed to open up in the final period of regulation. The Screaming Eagles struck first when Mathias Laferriere knocked in his own rebound as the puck dropped just out of the reach of Alex Gravel at the side of the net and the big centreman took advantage for his 15th goal of the season.
The Mooseheads were able to bounce back in a big way about two minutes later when Denis Toner jumped onto the ice to join the play in the offensive zone. Fellow defenceman Jake Ryczek zipped a pass over to Toner who put a hard shot on net through traffic and Samuel Asselin deflected it in to tie the game 1-1. The goal was Asselin’s team-leading 22nd which put him into the top five in that category in the QMJHL.
The spirited Wednesday night crowd of 6,523 got louder and louder with chants of “Go Moose Go” and that led to the Herd taking the lead as Ben Higgins swiped the puck in for a 2-1 advantage with only 2:13 remaining in regulation. The celebration was short-lived though because Mitchell Balmas came in on a breakaway 34 seconds after the Higgins tally and scored on a backhanded shot. The goal came on a delayed penalty call as Walter Flower was draped over the back of Balmas as he tucked it behind Gravel.
Both goalies made miraculous saves before the final horn in OT. Gravel was first with an incredible glove stop on Ryan Francis and then Mandolese somehow got across to stone Samuel Asselin point blank with just 10 seconds remaining.
The Mooseheads (22-7-1-1) saw their five-game winning streak snapped but will take the point and move on as they get set to host the Moncton Wildcats on Teddy Bear Toss night this Friday at 7pm. The Herd will close out the pre-Christmas schedule with another home game on Saturday at 7pm versus Charlottetown.
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.