Time has been ticking for the Mooseheads but the clock hasn’t run out yet on their chances at making it into the President Cup Playoffs. Alex Gravel made 47 saves and Kevin Gursoy scored three points as Halifax came up with a crucial victory on the road Tuesday night by taking down the Charlottetown Islanders 7-4.
The win snaps an eight-game slide for the Herd and narrows that gap to four points behind the Gatineau Olympiques, who hold down the final QMJHL Playoff spot. The Mooseheads now have five games remaining in the regular season to make up the difference while Gatineau is down to four games left on their schedule.
It was a big night for the first star Kevin Gursoy who was playing in his first game back at the Eastlink Centre since being traded from Charlottetown to the Mooseheads at the deadline. His former team honoured him with a video tribute during a tv timeout in the first period and he responded just moments later by scoring on the power play to put Halifax up 1-0 at the 14:19 mark.
Goals seemed to come in bunches during the game and the Moose took a 2-0 on a Landon Miron tally that needed to be reviewed for a potential kicking motion. The officials had a look at it and pointed to centre ice to give Halifax two goals in 62 seconds. The Herd took the 2-0 advantage to the dressing room after 20 minutes but it was Charlottetown’s turn to get a couple of quick ones to begin the second period.
Brett Budgell sliced the Mooseheads’ lead to 2-1 just 1:18 into the middle period while Ethan Crossman got the equalizer at the 3:44 mark and the teams were back to even-footing. However something about this game was much different for the Mooseheads than what they had become accustomed to in the second half of the season and the breaks and bounces started going in their favour.
The Islanders coughed up the puck in their own end around the midway point of the second period and Jeff Burridge pounced on a Marcel Barinka rebound to put the Moose back in front 3-2. Halifax found a spark and continued to pour it on as defenceman Lucas Robinson got down low in the offensive zone and potted his first career goal to make it a 4-2 game less than a minute after the Burridge strike. The outburst kept coming when Marcel Barinka buried a wrist shot from just inside the top of the circle to extend the lead to 5-2 but they weren’t done there. Gursoy added his second of the game in the final minute of the period and the Mooseheads took a big 6-2 lead into the third period.
Zack Jones capped off the scoring parade by the visitors when he notched his 15th goal of his rookie campaign 39 seconds into the final stanza to give 16-year-old goalie Jacob Goobie the hook. Goobie allowed seven goals on 23 shots while his veteran opponent calmly did his job at the other end of the rink. Alexis Gravel has faced a lot of rubber lately and he was busy again in this game with 51 shots on goal. He stopped 47 of them to earn the second star. Charlottetown got two goals in 18 seconds from Cole Edwards to make the final score a little more respectable. The two quick goals are second in the Islanders franchise record books for fastest two goals scored by one player. Brett Budgell holds the record with two goals in 12 seconds that came in a game against Moncton in March, 2018.
Speaking of records, Alex Gravel has now faced more shots than any other goalie in Mooseheads history with 5,179. He recently surpassed Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s former record of 5,108. The victory tonight was the 82nd of his career.
Halifax played without forwards; D’Artagnan Joly (upper body), Alexandre David (lower body), Ozzie King (upper body) and Said Abi-Faycal (upper body), while defenceman Brendan Tomilson also sat out (upper body).
The Mooseheads will continue their road trip on Friday night when they visit the Eastern Conference leading Moncton Wildcats. Points could be tough to come by in the Hub City but the Herd will also face last place Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday night at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre.
The road schedule finishes for the regular season on Wednesday, March 18th at Cape Breton before the Moose return to Scotiabank Centre for home games against Acadie-Bathurst on Friday, March 20th at 7pm and vs Moncton Saturday, March 21st at 4pm. For tickets, visit the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or charge by phone 902-451-1221.