Photo Credit: Dale Preston/Getty Images
“We need to be better.”
The words of Mooseheads Captain Attilio Biasca tell the story of the Moncton Wildcats and their 4-1 game one victory over Halifax to start round two.
The path for the Wildcats heading into this series was embracing the all-hands-on-deck approach and to limit the opportunities for the well-oiled offensive machine to get rolling.
The Wildcats held Jordan Dumais pointless with his linemates Doucet and Lawrence logging an assist on Brady Schultz’s goal late in the contest to break Jacob Steinman’s shutout bid.
Vincent Labelle broke the ice early with a one time shot from the low slot on a feed from Charles Beaudoin, beating Mathis Rousseau to give Moncton a lead with 4:44 to go in the first period.
Similar to the Mooseheads in game one versus Cape Breton, Moncton had to weather the storm early on with Steinman fighting off excellent scoring opportunities from Halifax, and they were rewarded with a powerplay marker at the end of the period.
Halifax pressed for the tying goal to start the second period, but Natan Grenier was left alone at the circle, allowing him space to cut into the middle and beat Rousseau’s high blocker side to extend the lead.
Yoan Loshing scored just 3:45 later, flying undetected past the Mooseheads defence for a tap-in goal to put the Wildcats up 3-0.
Maxim Barbashev put a bow on the three-goal second period on a turnover in the offensive zone following a highlight reel save from Steinman and receiving a pass from Charles Beaudoin to find the back of the net.
The 4-0 lead was all Moncton needed, as Brady Schultz finished a play with Alexandre Doucet and Josh Lawrence to break the shutout bid but did not matter in the grand scheme.
Jacob Steinman made 39 saves in the win and has continued his strong play from the first round into a critical second round showdown.
The Wildcats are coming off a seven-game series with plenty of dramatics and emotion to go around. Five of the seven contests went to overtime including the deciding game where Barbashev netted the overtime winner following a called back goal for Baie-Comeau.
The Mooseheads, on the other hand, appeared to be rusty after sitting for eight days since their last contest where they eliminated the Cape Breton Eagles in four games.
Heading into game two on Saturday night, the goal for the Mooseheads is simple. They need to find a way to get their offence going and to escape the smothering style Moncton showed they could play last night.
It may only be a matter of time before the well-oiled machine starts rolling again. But with the margin of error so thin in a seven-game series, they will need all the firepower they can get. And they will need it soon, before it is too late.