Playoff-like atmosphere as Mooseheads edge Titan 3-1
“For me it was a playoff game.”
That was an accurate statement from sniper Filip Zadina about the intensity of the hockey game between the Halifax Mooseheads and Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Saturday night. The Mooseheads got a pair of goals from the star Czech forward and Max Fortier added an empty net tally in a 3-1 victory over the Titan.
To say the game was a pivotal one for Halifax would be an understatement. The team was not pleased with their performance one night earlier in Moncton and also had this one circled on the calendar following an ugly 11-1 loss in Bathurst two weeks ago. The Mooseheads wanted to make a statement and they did exactly that in front of a fourth consecutive crowd of more than 8,000 fans at Scotiabank Centre.
“It was a tough game and we wanted to win today and the fans helped us a lot,” Zadina said.
The win puts Halifax (33-12-5-1) six points in front of Bathurst (29-14-6-2) for the Maritimes Division lead with exactly 17 games to play in the regular season for both teams. They will face off twice more, including March 10th at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre and in the final game of the season at Scotiabank Centre on Saturday, March 17th. Those could very well be extremely meaningful games in terms of the final standings and playoff positioning.
Zadina got his team off an running just 1:13 into the opening period when he found open ice and took a pass from Otto Somppi who spun around to find number eleven breaking in and Zadina buried his shot past Evan Fitzpatrick and celebrated with a fist pump that would rival Tiger Woods on a Sunday at Augusta. The goal was Zadina’s 28th of the season and came with his parents sitting in the stands as they made their first trip to Halifax this weekend.
“It was a special moment for me and I was trying to score goals for my family, for my Mom and my Dad and I did it so I’m so happy.”
The emotion from the players on the ice could be felt throughout the arena that was buzzing with excitement before teams even hit the ice for warmup. The Mooseheads were left with a sour taste in their mouth from that game in Bathurst on January 20th and the Titan players certainly had no love lost for the Herd. That led to plenty of post-whistle activity as neither team was willing to budge an inch and the fans loved it.
Blade Mann-Dixon, the second star with 25 saves, put in a strong performance in goal for Halifax and made some incredible glove stops to maintain the 1-0 lead in the first period and early in the second. Zadina then gave his club a little breathing room when he went down on one knee notch his second goal of the night directly off a face off win by Somppi at 4:54 of the middle period. Zadina’s wrist shot had eyes to give him 29 goals on the season, tying him with Alex Lafreniere of Rimouski for most by a rookie in the QMJHL. Somppi’s two helpers earned him the third star. Acadie-Bathurst cut the lead in half with 58 seconds to play in the period as Jeffrey Viel tallied on the power play to set up an exciting final 20 minutes.
The third period came as advertised and play went up and down the ice for long stretches between whistles and both goalies did their part to keep the score the same. Bathurst was forced to pull Fitzpatrick with 1:32 to go and Max Fortier made them pay when he drilled one into the back of the net from his own blue line. That goal tied Fortier with Darcy Ashley for second in Mooseheads franchise scoring with 252 points. The Blue Jackets prospect is also now just three goals shy of 100 for his career.
The Mooseheads will take the day off on Sunday and will practice Monday afternoon before heading to Charlottetown to face the Islanders on Tuesday night. The Herd will return to home ice on Thursday versus the Chicoutimi Sagueneens at 7pm. It’s the final Student Night of the season which means tickets for just $9 with valid student ID, free cover at the Dome & Cheers plus we are giving away $1000 for your books and tuition!
Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or call 451-1221.