Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
No one can accuse Darcy Ashley of flat lining since taking over as captain of the Halifax Mooseheads.
For the second time in four days, the five-foot-eight, 175 pounder came through in the clutch, scoring the game winner at crunch time.
On Saturday night, Ashley made no mistake on a lovely feed from Nikolaj Ehlers with 3:03 left in regulation time to give the Mooseheads a 4-3 win over the Bathurst Titan before 7,782 ecstatic fans at the Metro Centre.
Ashley, who is wearing the ‘C’ in place of injured captain Trey Lewis, also netted the game winner with less than five minutes to go Wednesday at home to the Charlottetown Islanders.
“I mean, I’m a 20 year old player, I’m filling in as captain with Trey not being around right now, so it’s my job to contribute offensively and defensively,” said Ashley, who has eight points, including three goals, in his last three games. “One of my jobs is to score goals and I’ve been on the ball lately. I’ve been getting some good chances on wide open nets. I’ve been making sure that I put them in.”
Not only was it a fine offensive showing for Halifax this weekend – they also beat the Titan in Bathurst on Friday 5-2 – but they showed their defensive mettle. They limited Bathurst to a combined 32 shots over two games, including none in the final frame on Friday.
“We could have done a little bit more offensively tonight,” said Ashley. “But, we only gave up 15 shots, and if we only give up that many chances we’re going to win most nights. We’re buying into what (our coaching staff) is telling us. Maybe it wasn’t our best game tonight, but we won and good teams find a way to win.”
The Mooseheads got off to another quick start on Saturday, taking a 3-1 lead early in the middle frame. But the Titan got right back into it six minutes later, scoring two rather weak goals on Mooseheads netminder Zach Fucale.
But from there, Fucale shut the door.
Another highight for the Mooseheads was rookie defenceman Jacob Jacques’ first QMJHL goal, a rocket point shot that got by Titan netminder Jacob Brennan. Delighted after the game, Jacques said he wasn’t sure he scored until he saw teammate Jonathan Drouin scooping up the puck and bringing it back to him.
“It was fun, I was so happy,” said Jacques, who intends to give the puck to his parents, his biggest fans.
Brennan, a Halifax native, stopped 24 shots in the loss, which included several terrific glove saves.
“We were in the game to the last second; obviously that power play goal was what put them over the top,” he said. “But a bounce for either team could have made the difference, but they have a good team, and solid defence. They did their part.”
With the win, the Mooseheads (12-7) remain in first place in the Maritime Division, three points ahead of the Charlottetown Islanders, who lost on Saturday night, but have four games in hand.
Andrew Shewfelt and Brent Andrews rounded out the scoring for Halifax. Robert Pelletier, Adam Chapman and Alexandros Soumakis responded for the Titan (6-9-1-1).
The Mooseheads are back in action Wednesday when they hit the road to take on the Gatineau Olympiques.