The Halifax Mooseheads players aren’t going to quit playing simply because they’re not in the playoffs. Quite the opposite actually. The Herd strolled into the Moncton Coliseum on Friday night and utterly dominated in a 7-4 win over the Wildcats as eight players posted multiple points.
The Moose took control early in the game and built a nice cushion thanks to a three-goal outburst during a 1:02 span of the first period to build a lead they would never relinquish.
Otto Somppi tallied for the 13th time in his rookie season at the 8:31 mark to kick off the wild flourish, followed by goals from fellow freshman Arnaud Durandeau and later Max Fortier who lit the lamp with his 31st goal.
The NHL draft eligible Somppi and Fortier definitely took advantage of one of their final opportunities to impress the NHL scouts before the season comes to a close. Both players had three points in the opening period.
Somppi appeared to have scored again in the period but the statisticians gave credit to Vince Watt as the Mooseheads took a 4-0 lead to the locker room after 20 minutes.
The Mooseheads were officially eliminated from playoff contention one week ago, but would be more than happy to play any type of spoiler role they can. Halifax did its part by keeping the Wildcats from clinching the sixth overall position in the QMJHL. The Moose victory coupled with a Screaming Eagles win earlier in the night means Cape Breton will have a chance to leap frog Moncton in the standings on the final day of the regular season.
The 5,672 fans at the Coliseum were give something to cheer about when Conor Garland got his team on the board early in the second period. With the goal he became the leading scorer in franchise history with 327 points. The reigning QMJHL MVP and Arizona Coyotes prospect has 127 points this season.
After Garland cut the lead to 4-1 the Herd turned it up a notch to score three consecutive goals with Andrew Shewfelt finding the back of the net on a rebound, Vince Watt netting his second of the night on a breakaway and young Walter Flower getting the first goal of his career on a low shot from the point that got through a crowd and beat Blade Mann-Dixon.
Flower, the Lunenburg native, was the last of the nine active rookies to score his first career goal.
Moncton was able to add three goals from Kelly Kilma, Vaclav Karabacek and Cody Donaghey in the final 20 minutes of the contest but the game was already too far out of reach.
Kevin Resop was given the start for Halifax and made 26 saves. The Mooseheads fired 36 shots at the Cats net as Mann-Dixon stopped 24 and Bouchard five.
Mann-Dixon had come into the game in relief of Keven Bouchard who was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots in the first period.
Durandeau, Flower and Andrew Shewfelt each scored one goal and one assist while Ilya Putintsev and Connor Moynihan had two assists each. The other Mooseheads assists went to J-S Taillefer and Brett Crossley.
Garland was given the game’s first star presumably in honour of his historic point while Fortier and Watt picked up the second and third stars respectively.
The Mooseheads head to Charlottetown where they will wrap up the 2015-2016 season Saturday afternoon at 4pm against the Islanders. The Herd will once again have a chance to make an impact on the final standings with the Isles in a fight to claim home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.