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Gravel backstops Mooseheads to fifth straight win

Charlottetown Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh makes the pad save with Halifax Mooseheads centre BO Groulx looking for the rebound during Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Monday in Charlottetown. (Jason Malloy/The Guardian)
Charlottetown Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh makes the pad save with Halifax Mooseheads centre BO Groulx looking for the rebound during Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Monday in Charlottetown. (Jason Malloy/The Guardian)

Make it five wins in a row for the Halifax Mooseheads.

They wrappped up a busy Thanksgiving weekend with a 4-1 road victory over the Charlottetown Islanders on Monday. The Mooseheads played four times in five days and won every outing to build on an overtime road decision over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar from last Saturday.

"It was a very satisfying win today to finish our four-in-five," said Halifax head coach J.J. Daigneault. "We had four tough games but everyone still came out really hard today. The guys all emptied the tank today and everyone played well.

"And it was a tough game. This is a tough building to play in. They tried to bully us out of the building, but at the end of the day, it only made us better."

Special teams played a huge part in the latest victory. Maxim Trepanier opened the game with a power-play goal and a shorthanded score three minutes apart  in the first period and Senna Peeters made it 3-0 with another man-advantage goal late in the second period.

Raphael Lavoie rounded out the Halifax scoring with a one-timer on the power play in the third period, making the Mooseheads three-for-six on the day with the extra man.

"Our special teams were huge tonight," Daigneault said. "Our PK has been really good since the start of the season. A couple of games ago we took eight penalties, which I wasn't very happy about, but the PK did a great job. Our PP was still to get going but ... we got some timely goals tonight. We got good quality shots and our net-front presence has been much better and that's probably the reason the power play has gotten going."

 Matthew Welsh made 22 saves for Charlottetown. Alexis Gravel made his second straight start for Halifax, stopping 49 of 50 shots to earn the game's first star. Charlottetown's Kevin Gursoy spoiled his shutout bid in the final seconds of the game on the Islanders' final shot of the day.

"He's been unbelievable," Daigneault said. "We had some penalties and a five-on-three against us and there were a couple of saves that really kept us in the game. He made some huge saves all through the night. It's unfortunate that he lost his shutout with a minute left but he's the reason that we won." 

After opening the season with three straight losses, the Mooseheads are now 7-1 in their past eight games to make them 7-4-0-0 on the season. For the Islanders, this was their first regulation loss of the year. They are now 7-1-2-0.

"I think we're a better team today than we were when we played these guys the second and third games of the year," Daigneault said. "We have nine rookies and (BO Groulx) wasn't with us then but I think we've really progressed and the best is yet to come. We're playing a more structured way now and it's showing in games."

The Mooseheads' next game is on Friday on the road against the Cape Breton Eagles. The teams meet in a rematch on Saturday in Halifax.

Notes: Jared McIsaac (shoulder), Cole Foston (knee), Lucas Robinson (healthy scratch) and Gavin Hart (healthy scratch) did not play for Halifax. ... The Mooseheads beat the Val-d'Or Foreurs 6-2 at home on Sunday. Lavoie and Groulx each had two goals and two assists and Zack Jones and Jeff Burridge also scored. 

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