There was no quit in the Halifax Mooseheads on Wednesday night in Moncton as the beasts of the east found a way to win and advance to the third round of the President Cup Playoffs with a series sweep of the rival Wildcats.
Antoine Morand set up the tying goal and scored the game-winner as the Mooseheads rallied from a 2-0 deficit to grab a 4-2 victory and become the first QMJHL team to advance to the league semi-finals. Halifax trailed 2-1 until Morand sent a crossing pass to a hard driving Keith Getson who deflected the pass behind goalie Francis Leclerc who had been under siege since the start of the second period. The Herd peppered the Cats net with 39 shots in the final 40 minutes and the goalie faced 45 overall.
“The message after the second period was to just keep pushing hard,” said forward Max Trepanier who picked up a pair of assists in the win.
“In the third I thought we were dominant. We were all over them and had them on their heels so we just kept pushing and the result was in our favour so that was great.”
Halifax awaits a Round 3 opponent with their most likely opponent to be the Drummondville Voltigeurs who have a 3-1 series lead over Sherbrooke. Rouyn-Noranda can sweep Victoriaville on Thursday while Rimouski leads Cape Breton 2-games-to-1 with Game 4 Thursday in Sydney. The seeding for the third round of the playoffs is based on regular season points. Both Rouyn-Noranda and Drummondville finished with more points than the Mooseheads.
Per Round packs for Season Ticket Members and 15-Game Pack holders will go on sale on Monday at 11am through the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, TicketAtlantic.com or by calling 902-451-1221. The deadline to purchase is Wednesday, April 17th.
Individual tickets will go on sale to the General Public on Thursday, April 18th at 11am at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop or by phone 902-451-1221.
The home team put a scare in the Moose as the Cats jumped out to their first lead of the series with a Jakob Pelletier power play goal late in the opening period which had the Avenir Centre crowd in a party mood. Moncton took advantage of another Mooseheads penalty in the second period as Jeremy McKenna struck just 11 seconds after Jared McIsaac was sent to the box for high sticking and it was a 2-0 Wildcats lead. The momentum shifted after the McKenna goal and the Mooseheads poured on the pressure before finally cracking Leclerc with 4:50 to go in the period. A big rebound came out into the middle of the ice where Patty Kyte settled the puck and buried a point shot through traffic to slice the lead in half. The teams went to the third period with Moncton ahead 2-1 but that did not last thanks to some absolute domination in the offensive end by the determined Mooseheads.
Leclerc turned aside shot after shot but the Herd caught a break with a holding penalty to defenceman Christian Huntley at 12:57. Halifax kept the pressure coming and Morand, the first star, carried the puck from his own blueline and into the zone. He picked up speed coming down the right side and fed it in front to Keith Getson who cut hard to the net and the Bridgewater, NS native just had to put his stick on it to deflect the puck into the net for the game-tying tally. The goal came with exactly six minutes remaining in regulation and gave the Moose the extra boost of confidence they needed.
The offensive onslaught continued and Halifax was clearly wearing down a tired Moncton defensive unit who struggled just to get it out of their own end. The Mooseheads grabbed their first lead of the game just 1:44 after Getson’s clutch goal when Max Trepanier showed all kinds of patience with the puck before putting a shot on net with a couple of bodies in front of Leclerc. Morand got his stick on the Trepanier shot to tip it behind the goalie, setting off a massive celebration by the Moose. Trepanier was asked about setting up the series winning goal afterwards.
“I saw like three guys screaming at me for the puck so I looked at my options but they were all covered so I just tried to put the puck on the net and see what happens and the result was a goal so it was pretty exciting,” he said.
“I didn’t know Mo (Morand) touched it at first and then he just came at me and I went crazy, a little bit of black-out and didn’t know what to do!”
With their season on the line, Moncton was forced to pull their goalie in the final minutes of the game and Joel Bishop made them pay as he sealed the sweep with an empty net goal with 1:13 to go in the contest.
Final shots were 46-34 Mooseheads while Halifax went 1-3 on the power play and Moncton was 2-4 on the man advantage. Morand paced the attack with one goal and two assists. Trepanier added two helpers while Getson and Kyte each had a goal and an assist.
The Mooseheads will head home and get some well deserved rest as they await their semi-final opponent. This marks the first time since 2014 that Halifax has made it this far in the postseason and it’s the eighth time in 25 seasons of the franchise that the Moose have made it to at least the semi-finals.