For a guy who has been snake-bitten all season, Gabriel Desjardins looked like an established sniper in lifting the Halifax Mooseheads to a shootout win last night.
After assisting on Tomas Knotek’s game-tying goal, the 17-year-old winger scored the lone shootout marker on a nifty deke to his backhand and lifted the Mooseheads to a 5-4 win in QMJHL action before a crowd of 4,559 at the Metro Centre.
P.E.I. goalie Wendell Vye had no chance on the slick move that even caught Desjardins’ teammates off-guard.
“Usually he always shoots … And he doesn’t look where he shoots,” joked Pascal Amyot. “I was pretty surprised to see him dangling, but maybe he should do that more often … because it worked out pretty well for him.”
Desjardins’s heroics not only gave the Herd a victory in a game they probably didn’t deserve, they highlighted the sophomore’s outstanding play since the holiday break.
Pegged as a potential breakout player after a 25-point campaign that earned him Mooseheads’ rookie-of-the-year honours, Desjardins had just seven points in his first 38 games. But he has 14 in his past 21 and has revived his game.
“After a good first year I came back shaky,” the Montreal native said.
“But after Christmas, I’ve gotten better every game. I came ready, coach gave me a chance, and I took it.”
The Mooseheads had a 3-1 lead in the second period after Brent Andrews, Linden Bahm and Knotek beat Vye three times on nine shots. But Jordan Escott scored twice in 20 seconds late in the frame to tie it and Benjamin Casavant put the Rocket up 4-3 in the third before Knotek tied it at 16:40.
Halifax only had 13 shots midway through the third, but they matched that the rest of the way to finish with 26 to P.E.I.’s 35 in a game that almost got away from them.
“We got lucky,” said Amyot. “We have to play better than that.”
Goalie Peter Delmas stopped all four shootout attempts as the Mooseheads improved to 13-37-5. They head on the road against the Rimouski Oceanic on Saturday and Sunday.
Garrett Clarke isn’t out of the doghouse yet. The Halifax Mooseheads defenceman was a healthy scratch last night as head coach and general manager Cam Russell continued to punish him for a lack of discipline. Clarke was also benched for the second half of Saturday’s home win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The 17-year-old is the team’s most productive defenceman, with five goals and 15 assists in 36 games.