The Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats are on a course for some epic battles over the next few seasons in the QMJHL. Armed with young players like Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Jared McIsaac, Xavier Parent & Justin Barron, Halifax has the early leg up on the Wildcats who are just now starting their climb out of the league basement and back to contender status.
The Cats added 17-year-old sniper Anderson MacDonald to their stable of young players in an offseason trade, giving the team a marketable local star. They also stocked up in June’s draft when they nabbed an exciting forward in Jakub Pelletier with the third overall pick. All signs point to the 16-year-old turning into a high-end player in this league. Similar to the Mooseheads grabbing a sniper in Parent and a talented defenceman in Barron, Moncton drafted New Brunwicker Jaxon Bellamy 16th overall with their second pick in the first round. Bellamy is a big body with offensive upside, while his skating ability will need to improve.
The four 16-year-old first round draft picks will be on display at the Halifax Forum tonight at 7:00pm when the cross-border rivals square off in pre-season action. These players will be central figures in times to come not only on the ice but off it as well. Moncton and Halifax are seen as the front runners for landing the hosting duties for the 2019 Memorial Cup and will be doing everything they can to plead their case to the Canadian Hockey League as the reason why they should win the bidding. Think of some of the battles between these franchises in recent memory. The seven-game battle of the 2015 playoffs that saw the Wildcats come out on top as Conor Garland and Ivan Barbashev’s squad edged the Nikolaj Ehlers and Timo Meier led Mooseheads. That series fueled the rivalry as much as the epic 2007 playoff matchup did. Who can forget Ben MacAskill beating Jhase Sniderman early in double overtime as Halifax celebrated a seven-game series victory on the Moncton Coliseum ice? The mutual dislike between the fans of each side runs deep and will only grow as the Mooseheads and Wildcats continue to grow and develop their young stars. This rivalry is about to take it up a notch. You can get a taste for that starting tonight at the Forum.
Tickets will be available at the door at 4:30pm. They are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, Select Superstore Outlets and the Official Mooseheads Shop at Scotia Square Mall.
Mooseheads – Wildcats lineups for September 8th: