The underdog Halifax Mooseheads showed they could hang with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in Game 1 of the President Cup Finals but spent too much time killing off penalties in a 5-2 loss to the team with the top rated power play in the QMJHL Playoffs.
Felix Bibeau and Raphael Harvey-Pinard both scored twice in the Huskies win as the home team enjoyed nine power plays compared to just one for the Mooseheads. Rouyn-Noranda’s power play is clicking at a league best 33.8 percent over the span of 15 playoff games that has seen them awarded 80 chances on the man advantage. That’s 17 more than the next closest team, the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The Mooseheads have the third most power plays with 53.
Despite spending an extraordinary amount of time shorthanded, the Moose put up a good fight and were nearly even in shots. The Huskies had a 37-36 edge and needed a good effort from Samuel Harvey between the pipes to preserve the win. The 20-year-old goalie came up big on several occasions and made 34 saves. Alex Gravel took the loss with 33 stops in the Halifax crease.
The home crowd of 3,246 had the air horns blasting early when Harvey-Pinard picked up his first goal of the night 4:01 into action. He converted an excellent pass from Noah Dobson and Gravel could get back across in time to stop the glove side shot. Bibeau made it a 2-0 game before the midway mark of the first period when Antoine Morand turned it over in his own end to Joel Teasdale who fed Bibeau in front for the goal.
Halifax managed to cut the deficit in half with 5:10 to go in the period. Arnaud Durandeau hit a streaking Justin Barron in the small neutral zone at Iam Gold Arena and the defenceman carried the puck across the blue line before putting a low wrist shot on Harvey that went between the pads. That made it a 2-1 game but the Mooseheads would never find the equalizer in Game 1.
First star Noah Dobson’s point blast on the power play went over the glove of Gravel 7:38 into the second stanza and that turned out to be the game-winner. The Summerside, PE native had a very effective night with a goal and two assists to give him 23 points during the postseason.
The Moose clawed back to cut the lead to one goal once again as rising star Raphael Lavoie forced a turnover on the penalty kill and raced the length of the ice to score on a beautiful breakaway for his CHL best 18th goal of the playoffs. He is tied for the QMJHL lead in points with 28. That would do it for the Mooseheads goal scoring however and the Huskies added goals from third star Bibeau and second star Harvey-Pinard in the third period to skate to the opening game win.
It was a physical battle with a combined 50 hits between the teams as they begin the fight for the President Cup Trophy in the QMJHL’s 50th Anniversary season. Both the Mooseheads and Huskies are already guaranteed berths in the 2019 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia which kicks off on May 16th, but both teams clearly want to enter the tournament as the league champions.
Game 2 will be played Friday night in Rouyn-Noranda at 8pm ADT. Halifax will host Games 3 & 4 on Monday and Tuesday at Scotiabank Centre at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square Mall or charge by phone 902-451-1221.