Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
Like his Halifax Mooseheads teammates, Nikolas Ehlers woke up Saturday morning determined to redeem himself.
Coming off Friday’s uninspiring 5-1 home loss to the Moncton Wildcats, the Mooseheads’ leading scorer wasted little time finding his rhythm.
Just four minutes into the contest a crowd of 8,779 Metro Centre fans erupted after the 17-year-old rookie opened the scoring with his 24th goal of the year. His 25th broke a 2-2 tie early in the middle frame, and the Mooseheads held on for a solid 4-2 bounce-back victory over the Bathurst Titan.
“Everybody came into today’s game with great motivation,” said Ehlers. “We were all really ready for this game today and we all knew that we had to win. It was great to see the guys’ hard work pay off.”
By no means did the Mooseheads put on an offensive clinic. But, it was their stifling defence that led to timely turnovers and prevented the Titan from gaining any momentum all game long, limiting them to just 19 shots.
“(Coach Ducharme) asked us to do three things tonight: work hard, be a good teammate and buy into our system, and we didn’t do any of that last night,” said Mooseheads defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, who finished with an assist. “But today we definitely showed up to play. We knew we didn’t really have a choice. We were all over them.”
Mooseheads netminder Kevin Darveau had a solid game between the pipes. After his 10th straight start since Zach Fucale departed for the world juniors, Darveau will go back to his regular No. 2 role.
No doubt it was a challenging stretch for the Mooseheads rookie, who endured plenty of ups and downs, but in the end played largely solid for a team that battled through several key injuries.
“I had a lot of action and that’s the way I like it,” said Darveau, who finished with a 4-6 record over his 10-game stint. “Overall, I think I did pretty good job.
“We’re always taught that if you have a bad game you just erase it from your mind. It’s the past. I’m way calmer than I was when I started. I’m not nervous. For sure, I’m a little bit anxious before games but I’m more excited. It made me a better person and player.”
There’s nothing wrong with ending his run on a winning note.
The Mooseheads (27-16-0-1) now prepare to close out their home stint against the Charlottetown Islanders on Wednesday, in which both Jonathan Drouin and Fucale are expected back in the lineup.
Brent Andrews and Darcy Ashley rounded out the scoring for the Mooseheads, while Mark Trickett and Simon Fortier responded for Bathurst.