It’s been the battle everyone expected it would be, but the Halifax Mooseheads are comfortably in control.
The Mooseheads won a pair of entertaining, hard-fought contests at the Metro Centre on the weekend to grab a 2-0 lead over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s best-of-seven quarter-finals.
They won 4-2 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday, and head to Sydney for Games 3 and 4 tomorrow and Wednesday.
“Everybody’s been touting this as the Battle of Nova Scotia and it real feels like it out there,” Mooseheads defenceman Ben MacAskill said. “It’s really good to be up 2-0.”
Added goaltender Mark Yetman, who stopped 64 of 70 shots: “We’re going to their rink and we didn’t want to let them get the split. That’s what they were gunning for.”
Both games were tied heading into the third period and went down to the wire. Halifax came out with victory thanks to back-to-back third periods of clutch goals and big-game saves.
It was a strong, determined showing for the Mooseheads, who had heard just about enough about the Screaming Eagles’ tireless work ethic in the days leading up to the series.
“They were saying all this stuff in the paper about how they were going to come down and work us through the boards like a bunch of animals,” Mooseheads forward Brad Marchand said.
“But if they’re going to win, they’re going to have to match us. They’re going to have to match our skill, match our work ethic. And that’s going to be very tough for them to do.”
Marchand was the difference-maker, named the first star both nights. He had a goal and two assists on Friday and three assists on Saturday and generated chances virtually every shift.
He continues to burn the Eagles, as he knocked them out of the playoffs as a member of the Val-d’Or Foreurs last year with seven goals and five assists in a seven-game classic.
Bryce Swan had two more goals for a league-leading 10, just two away from Jamie Brown’s 11-year-old franchise record of 12. Peter-James Corsi had three goals and an assist.
• Jakub Voracek is still feeling the after-effects of a viral infection, but should be 100 per cent for Game 3. He managed a game-winning goal and an assist on the weekend … Cape Breton’s Robert Slaney had a hat trick in a Game 2 loss.