Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin.
The sellout crowd got its money’s worth and more at the Metro Centre on Saturday night.
Even after giving up five second period goals and after being down twice, the Halifax Mooseheads still found a way to beat the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 8-6 in their regular season finale.
Yes, the Mooseheads’ two biggest stars came up big. Jonathan Drouin was dynamite, picking up a goal and six helpers and Nikolaj Ehlers added to his extraordinary rookie campaign with a goal and a pair of assists.
But, the Herd’s other gifted rookie Philippe Gadoury ended his brief 19-game regular season with a hat trick, finishing the campaign with 20 goals.
After the game, the 20-year-old soft spoken forward emerged from the Mooseheads dressing room all smiles, the picture of joy.
“I really felt great before the game,” said Gadoury. “I’m really excited about what I accomplished. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I’m really happy, but now I have to concentrate on the playoffs.”
Rattling off five second period goals, the Screaming Eagles entered the third period with a 5-3 lead.
But, the Mooseheads came out in the final frame ready to battle. After tying the contest at 5-5, the Mooseheads found themselves down a goal once again. They pushed on, scoring three unanswered goals to win their 13th straight game and end the season with a record of 47-18-0-3.
It was a little too close for comfort for the Mooseheads, but Gadoury was more concerned about accentuating the positives in his squad’s resilient performance.
“All the boys were talking in the room between the second and third period; we had a good chat,” he added. “We were ready to go in the third and everyone saw that on the ice.”
Playing in his final regular season junior game, captain Darcy Ashley had an eventful evening after he and the Mooseheads’ other overagers Brendan Duke and Brent Andrews were honored in a pregame ceremony.
After scoring on his own net in a bizarre play when the Mooseheads net was empty on a delayed Cape Breton penalty, Ashley responded with the game-winner just past the mid point of the final frame.
“I had to make up for the little mishap earlier in the game,” said Ashley, who finished the season with a career-high 30 goals and 80 points. “You want to contribute in key moments and that’s what I’ve got to do going into the playoffs.
“But, to be a 20-year-old playing out your career in Halifax in such a great organization, the most professional organization in the CHL, is special. To be able to represent them well feels great. It was a privilege to play here.”
Now Ashley and Co. will face off against the Charlottetown Islanders in the opening round of the playoffs. Halifax goes into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed. The Baie-Comeau Drakkar sit at No. 1.
Danny Moynihan and Andrew Ryan rounded out the scoring for the Herd, while Matthew Nosella, Kyle Farrell, Raphael Corriveau, Charles-Eric Legare, Guillaume Gauthier and Julien Pelletier responded for Cape Breton.