By Kristen Lipscombe - Metro Halifax
Brett Crossley’s first shot wearing a Halifax Mooseheads jersey also became his first goal for the QMJHL club – and his entire family was at the Dartmouth Sportsplex on Saturday night to see it happen.
The Herd’s top draft pick, who happens to be from Cole Harbour, helped his team to a 3-2 exhibition win over the Saint John Sea Dogs, redirecting a pass from returning forward Brandon Vuic to find the back of the net and make it 1-0 at 8:05 in the opening frame.
“That’s going to stay with me for a long time,” the 16-year-old said of shaking off training camp nerves and snagging his first pre-season marker.
Crossley, selected 21st overall in the 2014 QMJHL Draft, didn’t produce any goals in a three-game intrasquad series last week in Cole Harbour, but said he’s now settled in alongside his fellow Moosehead hopefuls.
“You kind of grow into it, you start to know the guys, you start to feel more comfortable on the ice, and you start to feel more confident,” he said after Saturday’s game. “It’s (like) pieces of a puzzle … with all those things coming together.”
Crossley also gave linemate Vuic “full credit” for his assist on that opening goal.
“I just was kind of in the right place at the right time,” the five-foot-ten, 161-pound centreman said. “I saw him look up and as soon as we made eye contact … all I had to do was angle my stick.”
Vuic added a goal of his own on a power play midway through the first to make it 2-0 at intermission, en route to a “Gordie Howe hat trick.” The six-foot-four, 213-pound winger also got into a fight late in the second, after getting into it in the corner with Saint John blueliner Alex McQuaid.
Signed on by the Mooseheads last December, 19-year-old Vuic took on an enforcer role last season, but “it’s not all about fightin’ this year,” he said post-game Saturday.
“I’m just trying to put it in the net, trying to get those points up (and) help the team out as much as I can,” Vuic said.
His goal came by making his presence known in front of the net and poking the puck past the goal line.
“That’s like my office,” he said with a chuckle.
Second-year forward Jacob Jacques notched Halifax’s third and final goal at 6:58 in the middle frame, which saw fewer Moosehead goals and more penalties.
That included three penalties apiece to Halifax and Saint Join after Herd forward Timo Meier was checked from behind by Saint John Forward Marcus Cuomo, inciting another scuffle and getting the crowd on its feet.
Stefano Pezzetta got Saint John on the scoreboard in the last two minutes of the second, and added another in the third period by sliding it in from the side of the net past rookie Halifax netminder Kevin Martin.
Martin played the second half of the game, letting in both goals against and making seven saves, while fellow rookie goalie Kevin Resop was in the crease for the first period and a half, making eight saves.
The Herd are on the road Sunday for their second pre-season game, this time against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, with the puck dropping at 4 p.m. at Centre 200.