TIMO TIME! MOOSE SMOKE SHAWINIGAN
The Mooseheads used a huge second period scoring outburst to defeat the hometown Shawinigan Cataractes 6-3 on Thursday night for the Herd’s third consecutive victory.
Timo Meier put on a clinic for the 2,120 fans and 25 or so NHL scouts in attendance at the Centre Gervais Auto as the 2015 NHL Draft Prospect scored four times to lead Halifax to the victory in the opening game of a three game road trip.
The teams played a relatively uneventful scoreless first period, but things opened up quickly following the intermission as Meier tallied a hat trick in the Mooseheads explosive four-goal second period and the Herd carried a 4-2 lead into the final 20 minutes.
The Switzerland native finished off the biggest output of his QMJHL career when he beat Cataractes starting goaltender Marvin Cupper at 3:51 of the third period on the power play. Three of Meier’s four goals came with the man advantage en route to being named the First Star of the game.
“Timo was involved in every situation and had great net presence all night,” Coach Dominique Ducharme said after the win.
The power play was clicking for the Herd all night long as the team scored on four of eight chances with the man advantage and Meier admits it’s nice to be able to produce for his team.
“It’s always good to get some goals. You know we made some great plays and I just had to finish. I think special teams was the difference for us tonight,” the left winger said.
Halifax forward Nikolaj Ehlers took on the role of playmaker and collected an eye-popping five assists. He was honoured as the Second Star for his efforts.
Ducharme saw his team improve to 12-12-2-1 on the season as Halifax has put together its first three game winning streak of the year.
“I like our progression. Our confidence is growing and we want to keep moving forward. I think Everyone is playing well and we’re improving collectively.”
Third Star Philippe Gadoury scored the opening goal of the game when he skated in wide open on the right side of Cupper and converted on a nice pass from Maxime Fortier at the 1:07 mark of the second period. The 20-year-old Gadoury also added an assist on Jesse Lussier’s tally on the power play in the third period, chasing Cupper from the net. Mathieu Bellmare entered the game and stopped all seven shots he faced the rest of the way.
Halifax starting goalie Zach Fucale finished the night with 32 saves to secure his 124th career victory, passing Olivier Roy for sole possession of second on the all-time QMJHL list. Fucale is 18 wins shy of Jacques Cloutier’s league record of 142 wins.
Shawinigan’s goals came from Gabriel Slight, Anthony Beauvillier and Denis Yan as the Cataractes drop to 13-12-1-1 on the season.
Rookie defenseman Morgan Nauss sat out for the second straight game with an upper body injury. Other injured players not in the lineup were blueliners Cavan Fitzgerald and Josh Fitzgerald and forwards Ryan Falkenham and Brett Crossley.
Halifax General Manager Cam Russell called up rookies Domenic Argento and Tristan Tardif earlier in the day as both made their QMJHL debuts for the Herd.
The Mooseheads will attempt to push the winning streak to four in a row when they face off in Rouyn Noranda on Saturday night at 8pm. Halifax will cap off the road trip on Sunday afternoon in Val d’Or.
As for performing well in front of all of those NHL scouts, Meier says it’s not something he’s consistently thinking about.
“For sure it’s really important for me but at the same time I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I just want to play my best game every night and get better every day to help the team win.”