For the first 38 minutes of Friday night’s game at a sold-out K.C. Irving Regional Centre, the Mooseheads played exactly how they needed to by keeping the offensively talented Acadie-Bathurst Titan at bay and giving the sixth overall team the hard working blue collar effort the Moose have become known for. Unfortunately for Halifax it unravelled during the next 3:37 of play spanning the end of the second period and the start of the third as Bathurst scored three times en route to a 3-1 victory on home ice.
Halifax’s penalty killing was excellent throughout the night including a stretch of six consecutive man advantages for the Titan. That streak ended when, with the teams still scoreless late in the second period, Jocktan Chainey was sprung on a breakaway as he hopped out of the penalty box. Chainey was held by Vladimir Kuznetsov and awarded a penalty shot. Chainey found himself in a little bit of foreign territory with the penalty shot and got a decent shot on goal but netminder Anthony Dumont-Bouchard came up with the save, squandering the Mooseheads golden chance to get the all-important first goal of the game.
The Mooseheads received yet another outstanding start between the pipes from 16-year-old Alex Gravel who has made a habit of keeping his team in pretty much every game in the past couple of months. He made 38 saves in this one and wasn’t beaten until Noah Dobson sent a shot through a partial screen at 18:26 of the second period to open the scoring in the chippy game.
Halifax started the third period with 1:32 remaining on a power play but had the wind taken out of their sails when Samuel L’Italien potted a shorthanded goal just 35 seconds into the period with what turned out to be the game winner. Kuznetsov extended the lead to 3-0 less than 1:30 later when his centering attempt went off the skate of Jordan Lepage in front and got by Gravel.
The Mooseheads did not give up the fight and were able to bounce right back only 38 seconds after the Kuznetsov tally. Rookie Raphael Lavoie made a nice move with the puck to drag it around a defender and scored his fifth goal of the season with Cooper Jones and Brett Crossley getting the assists. The Herd continued to put on the pressure and has several good scoring chances. Connor Moynihan came within millimeters of getting another goal as he had a backhand shot get behind Bouchard, sending it off the post and back through the crease. Jake Coughler hit the crossbar earlier in the game and the goal judge turned the light on but it was waved off by the officials.
Bathurst was shutdown on the power play as the Mooseheads killed off all nine Titan man advantages while the Herd went 0-2 on the PP.
The final shots were 41-27 for the Titan who clinched home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with their win. The Mooseheads suffered their sixth consecutive loss and are in a fight for the playoffs, sitting on 57 points with four games to play. The team will be doing some scoreboard watching as they leave for Saint John where they will face the Sea Dogs on Saturday night at 7pm.
The Moose wrap up the regular season with a trio of home games next week starting with Wednesday night’s matchup against the Charlottetown Islanders at 7:00 pm. Halifax then welcomes the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for a special St. Patrick’s Day game at 7:00 pm on Friday as the Mooseheads will wear green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. Fan Appreciation Day is set for Saturday, March 18th at 4:00 pm when the Moose battle the CHL’s top ranked Saint John Sea Dogs.
Tickets for all Mooseheads home games are available now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or by phone at 902-451-1221