The Halifax Mooseheads were 112 seconds away from what would have been a sweet victory over the rival Moncton Wildcats but it wasn’t meant to be on Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Centre. The Cats scored the equalizer late in the 3rd period and then got the overtime winner with just 32 seconds to go in extra time to pick up a 3-2 win over Halifax.
The 8,012 fans in the building were thoroughly entertained all afternoon with back and forth action between the teams which included some hard hits and a little bad blood along the way. The Moose simply seemed to run out of gas a bit towards the end of regulation and in the overtime period while Moncton seized the opportunity for their 14th straight game without a regulation loss. The Wildcats are 12-0-2-0 during the span since their last loss in regulation to Cape Breton on October 2nd.
Alexander Khovanov scored the winner when he walked around defenceman Jared McIsaac who had dropped to the ice to try and block a potential pass and then waited out Alex Gravel to wrist in a shot from the hash marks after the goalie made the first move. The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Mooseheads who hadn’t trailed in the game until the final score was posted.
Gravel had an outstanding outing between the pipes with 39 saves but couldn’t do much as Jacob Hudson tied the game 2-2 with 1:51 left in regulation. The Moncton forward got about three stabs at the puck after an initial pad save and jammed it in with Gravel’s counterpart Francis Leclerc on the bench in favour of the extra attacker.
The Mooseheads got power play goals from Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Samuel Asselin in the defeat. Groulx opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the 1st period man advantage. Dylan Seitz was in the box after attempting to drop the gloves with Jared McIsaac. The Mooseheads defender showed major discipline and walked away to set up the power play. Seitz was fuming after McIsaac put a big hit on star forward Jakob Pelletier in front of the Wildcats bench. Mika Cyr then tried to go after McIsaac only to be sent to the ice with a big shoulder check.
With the score sitting 1-0 for Halifax, Ozzie King was fortunate to find a loose puck in the Mooseheads crease and banged it in early in the 2nd period to tie the game 1-1. King, playing in his hometown, had a small cheering section of family and friends that gave him a nice hand for the goal.
Samuel Asselin continued his excellent work on the power play later in the period by showing a willingness to go to the dirty areas of the ice. He parked himself in front of Leclerc and knocked in a goal with Moncton players draped all over him to make it a 2-1 game for the Herd. The goal was Asselin’s 11th of the season and 7th on the power play.
Halifax took the 2-1 lead into the 3rd period and were ahead in shots 24-21 after 40 minutes but the energy seemed to fade as Moncton picked up the pressure to out-shoot the Moose 15-7 in the final period of regulation and 6-0 in the OT. The Mooseheads took 3 out of a possible 4 points at home this weekend and now sit at 13-4-1-0 on the season. The loss snapped a perfect 4-0 streak of overtime wins previous to Sunday’s game. The rivalry between Halifax and Moncton is as good as it has been in recent years with two overtime games so far and the Herd holding a 2-0-1-0 record against the Cats this season. They will meet again on December 14th in Halifax.
3 Stars: Alex Gravel’s 39 saves had the fans on their feet throughout the game as he earned the 1st star. Fellow goalie Francis Leclerc was great at the other end of the ice with 29 stops for the 2nd star and Samuel Asselin picked up the 3rd star.
Scratches: Cole Stewart sat out after leaving Saturday’s win with an upper body injury. He is week to week. Jocktan’s Chainey’s minor injury had him watching from the press box for a 2nd game while Kyle Petten and Samuel Dube remained out.
Next Game: The Mooseheads will go back out on the road briefly for one game as they visit Acadie-Bathurst on Wednesday night at 7pm. Halifax returns home for a pair of games next weekend vs Cape Breton on Friday and the Titan on Saturday. Both are 7pm start times. Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore Outlets, www.ticketatlantic.com or charge by phone 451-1221.