It was a playoff series to remember and one that the young Mooseheads gained some valuable experience in, but the season has come to an end for Halifax with a 2-1 loss in Acadie-Bathurst.
The K.C. Irving Regional Centre was as loud as it has been in years with just over 3,000 fans cramming into the arena to cheer on the home team and they were treated to another classic between the division rivals who battled down to the wire in just the third postseason matchup against one another in their history.
Thomas Belgarde scored the game-winning goal with the Titan shorthanded in the third period to give the home team the victory in the fifth-and-deciding game. The 20-year-old who went viral on Wednesday night for his ability to drink a beverage, earned the first star as Bathurst advanced to face Charlottetown in the second round.
The Mooseheads and Titan were squaring off a day later than expected after the length of Wednesday’s triple overtime game forced the QMJHL to push the contest back by 24 hours. Rookie goalie Mathis Rousseau picked up where he left off after making a franchise record 68 saves for the Herd in the marathon game. Rousseau was incredible once again and stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced on Friday night. The goalie was the story of the series and finished with 201 saves in five games which was by far the most in the QMJHL’s first round of the President Cup Playoffs. Winning goalie Jan Bednard also had to come up with some big saves, especially in the final few minutes with the Herd pressing for the equalizer. The Red Wings prospect made 29 saves in the clincher.
Halifax just couldn’t muster up much of an offensive attack against the smothering Titan defensive play. Attilio Biasca briefly tied the game at 1-1 when he scored a third period power play goal, but Belgarde answered 2:35 later to restore the Bathurst lead. Ben Allison’s late goal in the opening period was the only other scoring in a second straight game between two teams who worked hard to limit their mistakes.
Jake Furlong and Brady Schultz earned the assists on Biasca’s goal and Captain Elliot Desnoyers was held off the scoresheet for the first time in 20 games to end a point streak that dated back to March 27th. It was, in all likelihood, the final QMJHL game for Desnoyers who is poised to move onto the Philadelphia Flyers minor league system next fall. The game also marked the end of the line for graduating overage players Zack Jones, Zac Beauregard and David Lafrance in a season that saw the Mooseheads win a total of 40 games between the regular season and playoffs.
Halifax entered the series versus Acadie-Bathurst as the heavy underdogs against a team that was built for major success this season and made some very big trades at the deadline, and for that the young Moose will hold their heads high.
The attention now turns to the offseason for the Mooseheads and adding to a talented young squad for the 2022-23 season. Halifax owns Moncton’s first round pick in July’s QMJHL Entry Draft and is set to make the seventh overall selection. The CHL Import Draft will also be held in early July meaning the action on the ice is done but it is starting to heat up in the office of General Manager Cam Russell.
NHL Draft eligible prospects Jake Furlong, Jordan Dumais and Markus Vidicek also have a busy summer ahead and will return as key corps players for the Mooseheads franchise going forward.
The Mooseheads organization would like to thank the continued support of their season ticket members, 15-game pack holders and corporate sponsors. The best is yet to come.