Trade acquisitions making big impact for Halifax Mooseheads
Halifax picked up 19-year-old goalie Blade Mann-Dixon, 20-year-old forward Jake Coughler and 20-year-old defenceman Frédéric Aubé in the past two weeks.
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A year after completely gutting the roster, the Halifax Mooseheads opted for a few minor lineup alterations over this year’s winter trading period.
“We liked our team for the most part. We’ve got a lot of good young guys, we’ve got some older players we’re looking at bringing back next year as overage players. We wanted to tweak it a bit,” said general manager Cam Russell.
The Mooseheads addressed all three positions with veteran players, bringing in goalie Blade Mann-Dixon and 20-year-old forward Jake Coughler in separate deals with the Charlottetown Islanders and 20-year-old defenceman Frédéric Aubé from the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Mann-Dixon helps ease the pressure off 16-year-old rookie Alexis Gravis in nets. At five-foot-seven, the 19-year-old looks small in nets but he’s come up huge, winning three games in a row including a 46-save game against the Saint John Sea Dogs and a 38-save game against his old club. He’s started five of eight games since joining the Moose.
“You’ve got to be careful how much ice time you give a 16-year-old goalie. We felt we needed to help him out a little bit and make sure we weren’t giving him too many games and bring him along properly,” said Russell.
The team shuffled its 20-year-old forwards to make room for Coughler, sending Bradley Kennedy to the Moncton Wildcats and parting ways with Anthony Sorrentino. Russell targeted Coughler because of his hard work grit and versatility on special teams. Coughler scored his first goal with the Mooseheads against his old team, the Islanders, where he had 20 goals this season.
“Having four years played in the league, I know the ins and outs of things. Obviously it’s a young team here so I’m there as a mentor and to bring some extra grit to the team,” said Coughler.
Overager Frédéric Aubé joins the blueline, filling the vacant spot left when the Moose traded team captain Taylor Ford to Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for a first-round pick in 2018 in a deal Russell said “was basically a trade we couldn’t resist.” With five defenceman age 17 or younger, Aubé is both a minute-muncher and leader on a young blueline. He’s off to a great start, scoring three goals in four games after four goals in 28 games with Drummondville.
“I see a great future for this team. I just want to help them improve. I’ll be gone next year, so if they win a championship one day, I want to be part of that,” said Aubé.
Halifax has won five of its six games in 2017.
FRIDAY, 7 p.m.: The Mooseheads host the Drummondville Voltiguers (19-17-0-4), who are one spot ahead of Halifax in the standings with a game in hand. There’ll be a familiar face behind the Voltiguers bench with former Halifax head coach Dominique Ducharme now serving as head coach and general manager of the Quebec team. Russian rookie Pavel Koltygin leads the team in scoring with 18 goals and 33 points and is fifth in QMJHL rookie scoring.
SUNDAY, 3 p.m.: The eighth-place Victoriaville Tigres (21-15-3-2) visit Scotiabank Centre. Forward Pascal Laberge, the 36th overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, has 15 points in 20 games. He missed over a month of action while out with a concussion. Winger Maxime Comtois could potentially go in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft. After scoring 60 points in his rookie season, the six-foot-two, 200-pound forward has 30 points this season.