If he hadn’t already won the hearts of Mooseheads supporters then Saturday’s performance by recently acquired goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon may have solidified it. The Antigonish, NS native was nearly unbeatable as he made 44 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Mann-Dixon, the first star of the game, stayed calm and cool no matter the situation as he consistently turned away the relentless attack from the division-leading Sea Dogs to help the Herd to their third consecutive win.
“I’ve always kind of molded my game around being calm because I’m not the biggest guy,” he said.
Otto Somppi got things going for the Mooseheads with a goal just over five minutes into the nationally televised game on Sportsnet. The second-year forward tipped home a point shot that Brett Crossley sent through traffic to get the vocal crowd of 7,183 into the game early on.
The Mooseheads jumped ahead by a pair of goals just 1:14 later when Max Fortier capitalized on Nico Hischier’s rebound off a two-on-one rush. The Sea Dogs immediately called their time-out to try to help the team and starting goalie Callum Booth settle down but Fortier’s 21st goal of the season proved to be the game-winner.
The teams traded goals in the second period as Spencer Smallman briefly cut into the Halifax lead but newcomer Frederic Aube restored the two-goal cushion with his third goal in two games as a member of the Mooseheads. Nico Hischier lifted the puck into an empty net from the Saint John blue line late in the third period to ice the victory.
“It felt great,” Mann-Dixon said.
“It’s my second win with the team and I think we played really well tonight.”
By virtue of the third straight victory the Mooseheads have improved their record to 18-18-1-2 which is good for 39 points through 39 games this season. The goaltender believes his team can make a little bit of noise in the second half.
“Yeah definitely that’s what we’re looking to do. We had a rough patch there before Christmas but we’ve added some impact people like Coughler and Aube.”
Jake Coughler played in his first game with the Mooseheads in the win despite battling flu-like symptoms earlier in the day.
Saint John goalie Callum Booth suffered his fourth loss in four games since coming to the Sea Dogs in a big trade with the Quebec Remparts. The visitors played without World Junior stars Thomas Chabot, Mathieu Joseph and Julien Gauthier who were given some well deserved rest after helping Canada capture the Silver medal in Montreal.
The Mooseheads held a special presentation prior to the game for equipment manager Chris MacDonald who also helped Canada in their second place finish at the prestigious tournament.
The two clubs will meet in a rematch on Sunday afternoon at Harbour Station at 3pm. The next home game for Halifax will be held on Wednesday night at 7pm when the revamped Charlottetown Islanders visit Scotiabank Centre.
Tickets are available now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or by phone at 902-451-1221.