MacKinnon Shines in Mooseheads Win
The game featured some of the top young talent in the league, the country, and it could be argued the world: Duclair, Erne, Grigorenko, and of course Nathan MacKinnon. I had this game billed as a match-up between the two next potential first overall picks. While Grigorenko has closed the gap on Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov in the race for the top spot in the next NHL Draft, MacKinnon is the leading candidate for the honour in 2013.
While Grigorenko flashed some of the skill that has him firmly entrenched in that debate, picking up a goal and an assist. MacKinnon stole the show and led the Moose to a 6-4 victory and took the season series from the Remparts.
The start of the game did not look so promising for Halifax. Despite taking the lead on a powerplay goal from Josh Desmond, Quebec responded quickly with two goals in 41 seconds to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Mikail Grigorenko setup Ryan Culkin for the first of the two, and tallied the second one himself.The Moose were outshot in the first period 18-6 and rookie netminder Zach Fucale made some nice saves to keep the deficit to only one.
But the momentum of the game slowly began to shift. MacKinnon potted his first on the night with a nifty (I think that is the first time I’ve ever actually typed that word) deflection off a feed from Alexandre Grenier. Remparts rookies Duclair and Erne each answered back to push the lead to two before MacKinnon brought it back to one prior to the end of the second, but the shot totals were beginning to even out.
Less than a minute into the final frame, the Mooseheads rookie took a pass from Cameron Critchlow and walked out from the corner and slid the hat-trick and tying goal by Remparts, and World Junior camp invitee, Louis Domingue. The Moosheads appeared to take the lead a couple times, but Josh Desmond had what would have been his second on the night called back due to the Remparts net being dislodged. That’s even despite the fact that it appeared Domingue was the one responsible for inadvertently pushing it off. The call on the ice was upheld after video review. It seemed like deja vu all over again after MacKinnon had a wrap-arond goal waved off a short time later. The net came off slightly on the play and that, or possibly because the ref didn’t see it cross the line, caused for it to be initially waved off. But this time after review, the Mooseheads had the lead.
With time winding down MacKinnon added his fifth on the night into an empty net and salted the game away for the Herd.
What seemed like it could have been a long night for the Mooseheads after the first period ended up being a game that will be remembered for a long time. Despite the victory and extraordinary performance by Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax showed some weaknesses. They were often pinned in the own zone and had trouble moving it out of the defensive zone smoothly. There were also a few times the puck was coughed up at the wrong time or place and led to Quebec turning the play back toward the Halifax net.
As Halifax climbs the ladder and begins looking toward the playoffs, a defenseman with the ability to move the puck smoothly and QB the powerplay could be on GM Cam Russell’s shopping list.
Halifax will hit the road for a game against PEI next Friday, and then play an important home-and-home with the league leading Saint John Sea Dogs Saturday and Sunday.