Halifax Mooseheads keep playoff hopes alive with overtime win against the Charlottetown Islanders
Halifax snaps a seven-game losing streak and picks up two crucial points in tight playoff race.
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While technically it wasn’t a must-win game, the Halifax Mooseheads picked up two valuable points on Wednesday night to remain in a playoff position.
Over-age forward Jake Coughler scored his third goal of the game in overtime against his former team to give the Halifax Mooseheads a 6-5 win over the Charlottetown Islanders in front of 7,772 fans at the Scotiabank Centre.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” said Coughler who helped the Mooseheads snap a seven-game losing streak.
“We’ve been practicing hard all week and it’s been really frustrating this past month.”
Despite the Mooseheads holding a three-goal lead in the third period, the QMJHL’s top scoring team stormed back as the Charlottetown Islanders forced overtime with three unanswered goals.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened to us,” said Coughler of the team’s evaporated lead.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes and the guys are maturing. We have a young group here, but we’ve really matured throughout this.”
Every point is important down the stretch with the regular season coming to a close on Saturday. While 11 of 16 teams have clinched playoff spots, six teams are battling for the final five spots. It’s a logjam in the standings as only four points separate those six teams. The Mooseheads are now in 15th place with 59 points.
“It’s a big monkey off our back. It really feels like winning a playoff game right now,” said captain Keigan Goetz, who also scored in the game.
“We knew where we were in the standings and as a group where we were. It’s a huge game for us. We knew it coming into the game.”
The top line got the Mooseheads on the board first when winger Max Fortier scored his 31st goal of the year. The goal ended a five-game goalless drought for Fortier, his longest slump of the season.
Swiss forward Nico Hischier was the second star of the game after posting three assists. In the first period, Hischier drew a hooking penalty but still managed to dish the puck off to rookie Benoit-Olivier Groulx, who scored his 17th goal.
Charlottetown Islanders winger Daniel Sprong, named the Canadian Hockey League player of the week earlier in the day, finished the night with three assists.
Rookie goalie Alex Gravel had 29 saves on the night as he started his 14th straight game. The win was the 17th of the season for the 16-year-old.
Halifax’s final two regular season games are at home over the weekend. First, against Cape Breton on Friday at 7 p.m., then against the Saint John Sea Dogs on Saturday at 4 p.m.