Mooseheads gathering steam

Halifax, Mooseheads

The young Halifax Mooseheads are a thrilling bunch of hockey players to watch these days and Wednesday night’s home game against the rebuilt Charlottetown Islanders was no exception. Nico Hischier wowed the Scotiabank Centre crowd with two goals and two assists while the legend of Blade Mann-Dixon had another chapter added with a first star, 36 save performance in a 4-1 victory.

The Islanders, who added several key players at the trade deadline and have Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong back in the lineup, appeared frustrated by the hard working Halifax players throughout the night. The Mooseheads have improved their record to 19-19-1-2 and have won three of the last four games. The win was especially sweet for former Islanders forward Jake Coughler who was shipped off to the Herd for a 5th round pick last week.

“Coming into the game it’s a little weird playing your old team but deep down you really want to beat them and that’s exactly what we did,” said Coughler.

The 20-year-old played right wing on a line with Otto Somppi and Benoit-Olivier Groulx and also saw time at center on the power play. Coughler picked up his first goal with the Mooseheads and 21st of the season when he deflected a point shot by Jared McIsaac during the man advantage in the opening minute of the third period.

“It was incredible. It was a great shot by McIsaac there and I just got a stick on it and it went in but it was a pretty special feeling.”

Hischier opened the scoring at the 13 minute mark of the second period when he sent a rocket by Charlottetown goalie Matt Welsh. The Swiss star would factor into all four Mooseheads goals in the game. The Islanders bounced back 1:35 later as newly acquired Francois Beauchemin beat Mann-Dixon on a breakaway to even the score. Maxime Fortier restored the lead for Halifax with a power play goal less than a minute later as he increased his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League points total to 65 points after finishing the night with a goal and an assist.

Blade Mann-Dixon put it on cruise control for the rest of the night and goals from Coughler and Hischier capped off the scoring. The 19-year-old goalie almost single-handedly kept the Moose in the game early on with the team being outshot 13-1 through the first period. He had the crowd on its feet near the end of the game with back-to-back highlight reel saves as he robbed Beauchemin while sitting on the ice.

“That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to keep the team in it when need be,” he said.

The diminutive netminder has won the hearts of fans in Moose Country with two straight first star performances on home ice as he has stopped 84 of the last 86 shots fired in his direction.

McIsaac was named third star for his efforts in the victory as he picked up a pair of assists to go along with some nifty defensive work. Other assists for the Moose went to Hischier with two, Fortier, Frederic Aube, Coughler and Jocktan Chainey.

Friday night at Scotiabank Centre will be another special game, not only for new addition Frederic Aube who is set to face his former team when the Drummondville Voltigeurs visit, but the Mooseheads will pay tribute to former Head Coach Dominique Ducharme who returns to Halifax for the first time since leaving to take the Head Coach/General manager position with the Volts. Ducharme also recently led Canada to a Silver Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Tickets are available now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, select Superstore Outlets, or by phone at 902-451-1221.

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