Head Coach Andre Tourigny wanted a better start to Game #4 with more emotion, drive and intensity from his players. The young Mooseheads responded with exactly that in skating to an exciting 3-1 victory over visiting Rouyn-Noranda on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Centre.
The victory pulls the 15th seeded Mooseheads even with the second seeded Huskies at two games apiece in the best-of-seven first round playoff matchup. Halifax came charging out of the gate with a pair of scoring chances on the very first rush of the game and cashed in early when first star Jake Coughler wired in a wrist shot just 1:15 into the contest to open the scoring.
“We wanted to get back to the mentality that we had in game one there. We came out firing in Rouyn and that’s exactly what we wanted to do and that’s exactly what we did (tonight),” Coughler said.
The 20-year-old forward picked up an assist later in the first period when he and Arnaud Durandeau teamed to set up star Nico Hischier on the power play for a 2-0 Mooseheads lead. The goal came at the 17:41 mark of the period and turned out to be the game-winner. Coughler was happy to be one of the veterans to help chip in to secure the important win for the team.
“When you have a young team like this the team really relies on the older guys to step up.”
Rouyn-Noranda bounced back with a better second period but the Mooseheads made the most of their four shots on goal in the stanza as defenceman Frederic Aube carried the puck in deep and scored from a very difficult angle. The goal spelled the end of the night for Huskies starter Olivier Tremblay. Even the wily over-ager couldn’t really explain how it went in.
“That’s a great question,” Aube said with a smile, shortly after he was announced as the second star.
“I haven’t seen it again but we have to throw more pucks to the net and that’s what I tried to do and got a lucky bounce.”
The Huskies responded with a goal from Alexandre Fortin about two minutes later to make it a 3-1 game but they would not get any closer.
There was some bad news for the Herd during the second period as rookie defenceman Jared McIsaac left with an upper body injury. He returned for one shift in the final 20 minutes but did not look comfortable and made his way to the locker room. He will be re-examined on Thursday.
With McIsaac out the team relied heavily on Aube, Jocktan Chainey and Jordan Lepage on the blueline in the third period while Alex Gravel continued his stellar series by making big stop after big stop. The young goalie stopped all 13 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes and finished with 32 saves in the game to earn the third star. Gravel has been named a star in all four games of the first round battle.
Final shots were 33-23 for the Huskies. Olivier Tremblay was pulled after he allowed three goals on 14 shots. Samuel Harvey wasn’t busy in relief but stopped all nine shots fired in his direction. Arnaud Durandeau picked up a pair of assists in the victory and he now leads the Mooseheads in playoff scoring with five points. Other players to earn assists were Coughler, Joel Bishop, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Raphael Lavoie.
The Mooseheads will take the momentum into Game #5 which will also be held at Scotiabank Centre on Friday night at 7:00 pm in front of what is expected to be a vocal crowd as Halifax tries to push the highly ranked Huskies to the brink of elimination.
Tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office at Scotiabank Centre, Mooseheads Official Shop in Scotia Square Mall, select Superstore Outlets, TicketAtlantic.com or by phone at 902-451-1221. Service charges apply.