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Moose rip Wildcats
By Willy Palov - Sports Reporter
The Chronicle Herald
THERE IS NEVER A SHORTAGE OF INTENSITY when the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats face each other and Thursday’s game was no exception.
The Mooseheads came out on top in a emotional, hard-hitting 7-3 game in front of 6,972 fans at the Metro Centre.
“It’s always intense with those guys, especially after the playoffs against them last year,” said Halifax winger Andrew Ryan. “We had that tough series against them and it’s been a battle ever since.”
Although the Mooseheads took the first lead just 1:52 into the game on a goal from Ryan, the Wildcats had the edge in play for most of the first 30 minutes. They built a 3-1 lead by the middle of the second period but let the Mooseheads off the hook before the intermission.
Stefan Fournier and Konrad Abeltshauser scored power-play goals 1:56 apart and Brendan Duke put the Mooseheads ahead 4-3 just 1:59 before the end of the period. The three quick goals shifted the momentum in the Mooseheads’ favour and they never looked back. They finished the game with six unanswered goals.
“We didn’t have the start we wanted,” Duke said. “We knew they were going to come out strong but we had hoped for a better first period. In the second period, we got those two power-play goals and that’s what got us going.
“Once we got one we got rolling and, from there, the boys just kept putting them home.”
Ryan added his second goal of the game in the third period and MacKenzie Weegar and Darcy Ashley scored late to put the game out of reach. Ashley finished with four points and Ryan was named the game’s third star. His two goals came at key points and he almost had a third but missed on a penalty shot.
“I got that early one in the first period and then it was close there for a while,” said Ryan. “That fifth goal, my second, I guess pushed us over the top.”
Zachary Fucale turned aside 16 shots for the Mooseheads and Alex Dubeau and Cole Holowenko combined to make 34 saves for the Wildcats.
Allain Saulnier, Mitchell Deruelle and Stephen Johnson were the Moncton goal scorers.
Duke also had an assist and came to Fucale's defence after he was bumped by Moncton forward Yannick Veilleux. The fight gave Duke his first career Gordie Howe hat trick, while Veilleux received a match penalty for kicking Duke in the leg after their fight.
“If someone told me before the game that would happen, I’d have been pretty surprised,” Duke said of the one-goal, one-assist, one-fight performance that earned him the first star.
“The ref was kind of on me and I felt something on my leg. The linesman asked the ref if he saw it but I don’t really know what happened. I kind of knew that he kicked me or something but I wasn’t really 100 per cent sure what happened.”
The Wildcats unravelled after the incident, taking several straight undisciplined penalties.
“Every time we play them it seems like there are a lot of penalty minutes and they’re always hard games,” Duke said. “It was just another one of those tonight.”
The win is the Mooseheads' 18th straight at home and extends their unbeaten streak to 12 games.
“We’ve got a big crowd behind us this year and that’s been helping us a lot,” Ryan said. “We’ve been keeping it simple, especially over the Christmas break here. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
The Mooseheads (32-3-1-1) host the Saint John Sea Dogs tonight.
“We know some of our key guys aren’t here but the guys that are playing more are playing good,” Duke said. “We seem to keep bringing home wins so we’re happy.”
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