The Halifax Mooseheads feel like they let a win slip through their hands.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have taken a 3-2 stranglehold on the first round playoff series after an epic 6-5 triple overtime win on Friday night at Scotiabank Centre. The series now shifts back to western Quebec for Game 6 on Monday and if needed, Game 7 would also be held at Iamgold Arena on Tuesday.
This was the second-longest playoff game in Mooseheads history but the team was seconds from skating away with a regulation victory and heading to Rouyn with the series lead. Max Fortier played an incredible game and finished off a hat trick at 17:13 of the third period, putting the Herd ahead 5-3 and seemingly in the drivers seat. That’s when it all started to unravel for the home side.
Keigan Goetz took an ill-advised interference penalty 20 seconds after fans littered the ice with hats in celebration of Fortier’s tally and the Huskies wasted no time in cutting into the lead as Jeremy Lauzon’s point shot beat Alex Gravel through traffic. Lauzon’s third of the series came at the 17:53 mark.
Rouyn-Noranda continued to apply pressure with goaltender Samuel Harvey pulled in favour of the extra attacker but Fortier looked like he was closing in on his fourth goal as he sped down the wing only to put a backhand shot wide of the empty net. The Huskies kept coming and with 19.6 seconds showing on the clock Mathieu Boucher silenced a fantastic crowd of 7,904 when he swatted a puck out of midair to tie the game at 5.
The teams went back and forth like a pair of heavyweight boxers throughout the first two overtime periods but both goalies held their ground. Fans were just getting settled in their seats yet again for the sixth period of hockey when Gabriel Fontaine batted in a contested goal that stood up as the winner 25 seconds into the third overtime. The officials took several minutes reviewing the play as the two exhausted teams knelt down on the ice awaiting the call. Fans chanted “No goal” as they watched the replay over and over again on the big screen but the referee eventually hung up the phone and pointed to center ice to set off a Huskies celebration.
Final shots in the game were 55-43 for Rouyn-Noranda. Alex Gravel finished with 49 saves while Harvey had 38.
The scoring began when first star Max Fortier went top corner on Harvey for a shorthanded goal 7:52 into the first period to give the Mooseheads a 1-0 lead. Alexandre Fortin tied things at 1-1 with 40 seconds remaining in the stanza but Halifax bounced back immediately on Fortier’s second of the night with under five seconds left on the clock.
In the second period the Huskies tied it up and took the lead on two straight goals by J-C Beaudin and Fortin. Then it was Halifax’s turn to tie the score 3-3 as Nico Hischier deflected a point shot by Frederic Aube at 17:18. Joel Bishop sniped from the left circle with 4:59 remaining in regulation while Fortier added his hat trick goal a couple of minutes later only to watch the Huskies pull off the miracle.
Regardless of the outcome, the young Mooseheads gained more playoff experience in that one game than they could have ever hoped for which will be invaluable in years to come. This game will go down as one of the most memorable playoff games in team history.
Halifax has turned into a team of walking wounded as Jake Coughler became the latest player to go down with an injury. He left in regulation and did not return. His status will be up in the air heading into Game 6. Jared McIsaac returned to action after getting hurt in Game 4 and logged plenty of minutes but he certainly didn’t appear to be 100 percent. The Huskies played without the suspended Martins Dzierkals and Manny Wiederer but both will be available for Monday.
The Mooseheads have been a resilient group and they have proven that they can hang with the defending President Cup champs so don’t be surprised to see them have a short memory to start next week on the road.