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#Our18 : Young Mooseheads ready to roll

QMJHL

Things in the QMJHL move in cycles and the Halifax Mooseheads are on their way up. A perennial league powerhouse for years, the Mooseheads have recently found themselves in a rebuilding phase and have retooled in a hurry. Coming off a dominant run that included a Memorial Cup triumph in 2012-13, Halifax has stockpiled draft picks and gone with a youth movement that is about to pay off.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years in 2015-16, the young Mooseheads showed a 10-point improvement in the standings last season and are hungry for more in 2017-18. The team is coming off a highly competitive training camp that really impressed their general manager, Cam Russell.

“We had one of the most competitive camps we’ve had in a long time. We also had a lot of younger players who stood out, exceeded expectations and played extremely well like Xavier Parent, Justin Barron, Kyle Petten,” explained Russell of three of the club’s picks from this summer’s 2017 QMJHL Draft. “Those are the three 16-year-olds that ended up making our roster. We had some nice surprises and a deep, competitive camp. We are excited about our team this year and about the future for our club.”

New coach, new era

Two of the biggest stories heading into the 2017-18 season for the Mooseheads revolve around who wasn’t at camp this year. That list includes head coach Andre Tourigny who after only one season with the Mooseheads in 2016-17, moved on to join to the Ottawa 67’s in order to be closer to his family. A request the club graciously granted. The new man behind the bench in Halifax isn’t so new after all, however. A long-time assistant coach with the Mooseheads, Jim Midgley is now the head coach and Russell believes Midgley will make a smooth transition and he looks forward to watching how their young squad will respond.

“We will have to wait and see. Every coach has their own style. We as an organization won’t try to change that. What we want is for him to coach this team,” said Russell who actually coached the Mooseheads himself for four seasons from 2006-07 to 2009-10. “We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of team Jim puts together. He’s been a head coach on other teams like at the Canada Games teams and U17 teams. He brings a wealth of experience with him. He’s done an excellent job in the past and we’re excited about what he will bring us this year.”

The other big change for the Mooseheads this year is the loss of sensational Nico Hischier who after only one season in Halifax saw his stock rise all the way to him becoming the No. 1 overall pick at the 2017 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils. While the gifted winger will be sorely missed, he is but the latest Mooseheads’ product to be a blue-chip selection at the NHL Draft on the heels of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Nikolaj Ehlers who are all starring in the NHL today.

They all started off as promising young prospects with the Mooseheads. The team’s current arsenal of young guns won’t have to look very far for motivation in 2017-18 and beyond.

FULL INTERVIEW : GM Cam Russell

Who’s in

RW- Filip Zadina (CHL Import Draft Pick)
C – Xavier Parent (QMJHL 1st Round Pick)
D – Justin Barron (QMJHL 1st Round Pick)
C – Kyle Petten (QMJHL 6th Round Pick)
D – Ryan Barbosa (Free Agent – OJHL ‘Junior A’)
D- Patrick Kyte (Free Agent – CCHL ‘Junior A’)

Who’s out
LW – Caleb Rich
C – Nico Hischier (New Jersey-NHL)
RW – Keigan Goetz (USports)
RW – Jake Coughler (USports)
C – Anthony Sorrentino (USports)
D – Mathieu Charlebois (Gatineau)
D – Frederic Aube (USports)

The Mooseheads in 2016-17
Record : 27-35-3-3 (60 pts)
Overall rank: 14th
Goals for:
229
Goals against:
259
Playoffs: 
First round exit vs Rouyn (4-2) 

Leading scorers
Maxime Fortier (32-55-87)
Nico Hischier (38-48-86, not returning)
Jack Coughler (31-22-53, not returning)

 

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