The Halifax Mooseheads have backed their way into the Memorial Cup final. They lost 4-3 tonight to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies but, due to goal differential, they will go straight ahead to Sunday’s final with a bye. They will play the winner of the Rouyn-Noranda-Guelph Storm semifinal, which will be played on Friday.
The Huskies got on the board first despite Halifax dominating most of the first period. Fleix Bibeau was left all alone in front of the Mooseheads’ net and scored. All goals in the Memorial Cup tournament are reviewed in the situation room, but this one came under further review to make sure Rouyn-Noranda was onside prior to the goal being scored. They were and it was a good goal to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead.
On the second goal, scored by the Huskies, Peter Abbandonato lost his stick along the far boards, picked it up, got the puck and was able to make a nice pass to Joel Teasdale, who scored. This goal was also reviewed for offsides and was also deemed a good goal after a lengthy deliberation by the referees.
It was at this point that things were looking grim for the Halifax Mooseheads. If Rouyn-Noranda won by two or more goals, then Guelph would get a bye straight into the final.
But things changed drastically in the second period. Halifax scored three unanswered to take a 3-2 lead. The comeback began when Arnaud Durandeau backhanded a pass to Benoit-Olivier Groulx who shot and had his shot tipped by Rouyn-Noranda’s Noah Dobson into the Huskies’ net. That made it 2-1 Huskies.
The game was tied at two when Durandeau took a drop pass from Jared McIsaac, as Durandeau was trailing the play, to score.
Halifax then took the lead, getting the “home” (the Mooseheads were playing in their building, but were designated the visiting team) fans back into things. That go-ahead goal came when Antoine Morand, who had gone down the tunnel a few minutes earlier, but came back just as soon, took a centering pass from Keith Getson to score. The Mooseheads won the first faceoff in the Huskies’ zone on the power play and passed around the perimeter, finally getting it down low and to Morand. This goal came with less than a minute to go in the second and gave Halifax the 3-2 lead.
However, the Huskies are not the number one rated team in the CHL for nothing. They would stage a comeback of their own in the third period. Halfway through the period, William Rouleau took a bank pass off the boards through the neutral zone and used a nice shot to beat Halifax goaltender Alexis Gravel. This tied things at three as we strapped in for a bumpy finish.
With less than a minute to go in regulation, Jakub Lauko sniped one that beat Gravel to give Rouyn-Noranda the 4-3 lead. They would frantically try to get one more to force Halifax into the semifinal, but to no avail. The Mooseheads held on and backed into the final, which they will play on Sunday, to claim the Memorial Cup.
Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda) was named the game’s first star while Groulx of Halifax was the second, while Lauko of Rouyn-Noranda was the third star.
Gravel made 36 saves on 40 Huskies shots while Samuel Harvey made 24 saves on 27 Mooseheads shots. Jocktan Chainey was a minus-2 plus/minus with one shot on goal in the game.
The Memorial Cup final will come on Sunday with Halifax the home team against either Rouyn-Noranda or Guelph. We will have that for you then.
In other Devils CHL prospect news, Ty Smith is up for the award of CHL Defenseman of the Year at the CHL Awards this year. This was mentioned on this game’s broadcast on Sportsnet. Congratulations to him and good luck.