Islanders outplay the Mooseheads but lose in a shootout 4-3
The Charlottetown Islanders dropped their fourth matchup of the season with the Halifax Mooseheads tonight, evening the season series at two games apiece.
Aksels Ozols started his second game in a row for the first time this season.
Slow start in first period
Luck was not on Charlottetown’s side as early in the first period, Markus Vidicek banked a shot off of Owen Conrad in front of Ozols to open the scoring.
Simon Hughes went one-on-one with a Mooseheads defenseman. He tried to go behind the back, but was stopped in his tracks.
Halifax doubled their lead just moments later. An Isles turnover led to a two-on-one rush. Reece Peitzche tapped a feed from Yannik Ponzetto past Ozols.
Then, Charlottetown’s fourth line of Jarett Todd, Kevin Walker and Anthony Flanagan went to work, creating some chances, but Mooseheads’ goaltender Mathis Rousseau shut the door.
Halifax would take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Shots were tied at 6 apiece.
Isles defensive clinic in the second
Charlottetown started pressuring Halifax early in the frame, but Rousseau was rock-solid in goal.
Owen Conrad then walked into the offensive end and threaded the needle with a laser of a shot over Rousseau’s shoulder to cut the Mooseheads’ lead in half. Alexis Michaud and Matthew Butler assisted.
Kyle Powers laid a big hit, setting a physical tone for the rest of the game. He was then robbed by Rousseau of what seemed like a for-sure goal.
Then, with just under three minutes left in the frame, Giovanni Morneau buried a shot through traffic for his seventh goal of the season to tie the game. Michael Horth and Anthony Flanagan added assists.
The Isles held Halifax to just three shots in the period. They were outshooting them by a total of 19-10.
Nail-biter third period forces extra time
Rousseau stayed hot in the final frame of regulation, stopping chances from Jarrett Todd and Cole Huckins.
Markus Vidicek took the first penalty of the game just six minutes into the period, sending the Islanders to their lone power play chance of the game, but once again, the man advantage didn’t click.
Shortly after, Kevin Walker went to the penalty box for boarding, giving Halifax their only power play chance, but similar to the Isles, it was unsuccessful thanks to Ozols’ efforts.
With four minutes left, Marcus Kearsey dangled through the Mooseheads’ defence and beat Rousseau clean for his third of the season, giving the Islanders their first lead of the game.
Head Coach Jim Hulton is impressed with the play of Kearsey throughout the game.
“You have to step back at times and realise this young man is only 17-years-old. We paired him against one of the highest scoring lines in the country and he did it with flying colours,” he said.
The Mooseheads then pulled Rousseau for an extra attacker. Halifax started to pressure the Islanders defence. A shot from in close was blocked by Huckins, but the puck bounced right to Markus Vidicek who scored his second goal of the game to tie the game at three to send it to overtime.
Back and forth overtime wasn’t enough
Halifax controlled play for the first half of the extra frame, but high pressure defence from Michaud and solid saves from Ozols kept the game alive.
That allowed the Isles to come back the other way with some pressure of their own. Huckins, Powers and Kearsey generated offence on Rousseau, but once again, he kept the door shut.
Morneau shot a pass from Huckins, but the Mooseheads’ goaltender had his second highlight-reel stop of the night. That would end up forcing a shootout.
The lone goal scorer in the shootout was Vidicek, deflecting off of Ozols’ pad, securing a 4-3 win for the Mooseheads.
Final shots in the game were 34-21 in favour of the Islanders. Both squads went 0/1 on the man advantage and Charlottetown led in hits 23-21.
Hulton was satisfied with the way the Isles stuck with the top rated team in the country.
“I was very happy with everything but we didn’t get the extra point,” he said. “You know, being down 2-0 to a real good club, there’s just no quit in this team. We stuck with it and we battled.”
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar comes to town on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Hulton thinks the team needs to play like they did tonight.
“It’s a similar template tonight. You can’t just run and gun with them, their numbers tell the story, they’re going to score,” he said. “We’re becoming a team that’s difficult to play against in this building.”
Before the Drakkar arrive in Charlottetown, the Isles travel to Cape Breton to take on the Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 19. Puck drop at the Centre 200 is at 3:00 p.m. Fans can tune into the game at MAX 93.1FM and can purchase tickets here.