The Halifax Mooseheads picked up their 47th win of the season on Sunday afternoon with a 6-1 victory over the Saint John Sea Dogs at Harbour Station. Arnaud Durandeau scored twice and added an assist as the Mooseheads shook off a narrow loss in Moncton from the previous night to pull within one point of idle Baie-Comeau for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Halifax was also dealing with the loss of key forwards Raphael Lavoie and Antoine Morand to upper body injuries that were suffered in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Wildcats. Both players are listed as day-to-day. Their absence meant Marcel Barinka and Denis Toner drew into the lineup. Toner, normally a defenceman, was used as the fourth line right winger.
Following a rather quiet opening period, the Mooseheads exploded for four goals in the final eight-and-a-half minutes of the second period to take control against the Sea Dogs in front 6,098 fans. Durandeau started the scoring with a highlight reel goal against goalie Mikhail Denisov. The New York Islanders prospect took a long feed from Benoit-Olivier Groulx and dragged the puck across the crease from his forehand before lifting a nasty backhand shot up and over the sprawling goalie. Ben Higgins doubled the lead 69 seconds later when he jammed in a loose puck at the side of the net. The outburst continued as Jared McIsaac fired in his 16th of the season from the slot another two minutes later. The Truro, NS native has scored the most goals of any defenceman in the QMJHL this season.
The Sea Dogs spoiled Alex Gravel’s shutout bid at 18:45 of the middle period when they forced a turnover and Benjamin Gagne scored on a shorthanded breakaway. Halifax almost immediately restored the three-goal advantage when Ostap Safin wired home a one-timer from the bottom of the circle off a tape-to-tape pass by Xavier Parent on the power play. The goal came in the final minute of the period and the Mooseheads held a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Parent picked up his second point of the day when he scored midway through the third to make it 5-1 and Durandeau capped things off with his 35th goal of the season only 25 seconds later and the Herd cruised to a 6-1 win.
Gravel made 14 saves for his 32nd win and Halifax is set to head home for the final three games of the regular season with matchups against Moncton on Wednesday night at 7pm, Saint John Friday at 7pm and Charlottetown visits Saturday at 4:30pm in Fan Appreciation Day. The final game will also be shown nationwide on Sportsnet. 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.