If the Halifax Mooseheads had wanted to make Vees Night truly authentic, both teams would have skated away with just one point.
The Mooseheads, wearing Nova Scotia Voyageurs replica jerseys to honour the three-time American Hockey League champions, put forth an outstanding effort in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday before a crowd of 8,405 at the Metro Centre.
In the Voyageurs’ days, it would have been a tie with no shootout, but the Screaming Eagles earned the bonus point and Halifax grabbed a single in their desperate bid to make the QMJHL playoffs.
“We thought it was a really good effort from all the guys,” said Mooseheads forward Yuri Cheremetiev, who had a goal and an assist. “It’s disappointing not getting two points, but right now, we’re taking any point we can and we’re not hanging our heads about it.”
The last-place Mooseheads (17-37-6, 41 points) turned in a tenacious effort and were just as deserving of the extra point, going toe-to-toe with the fifth-place Screaming Eagles (42-17-4, 88 points).
They had a 2-1 lead after the second period on goals from Cheremetiev and his linemate Alexis Piette, and didn’t buckle under heavy pressure from the Screaming Eagles in the third. Jan Piskacek, at 1:35, and Brad Tesink, at 13:12, gave Cape Breton a 3-2 lead, but a huge goal from Travis Randell with 5:07 remaining sent it to extra time.
Mark Yetman was outstanding at times, finishing with 37 saves and stopping three of four in the shootout. Stephen Horyl was the only scorer on either team to tickle the twine in the shootout, converting on Cape Breton’s fourth attempt by beating Yetman high glove side.
Making the effort all the more impressive for Halifax was the absence of captain and top-pairing defenceman Graham Bona for the second half of the game. He was tossed for an instigator penalty, leaving Gabriel O’Connor, Pascal Amyot, Justin Pender and Ben MacAskill to carry the load on the blue line.
The Mooseheads are two points behind Val-d’Or and Baie-Comeau and three points behind Lewiston in the playoff race. They must pass two of those teams to move into a post-season spot, and face the P.E.I. Rocket on Sunday at 4 p.m. in Charlottetown.
“It’s not an easy to points … We can’t come out flat or we’ll definitely lose,” cautioned Cheremetiev. “But if we come out with the same effort as we did tonight, we’ll get a big two points.”
For more on the Mooseheads and the playoff race, visit Matthew Wuest’s Q Files blog at www.metronews.ca/qfiles.