Islanders fall to the Mooseheads in overtime
Coming off of their longest road-trip of the season the Isles were tasked with a mid-week game against the Maritime Division leading Halifax Mooseheads.
The Islanders went with Matthew Welsh between the pipes with Alexis Gravel getting the start for the Mooseheads on Wednesday night.
The opening period got off to a slow start but it didn’t take long for both teams to get their heads in the game.
Just over six minutes in, Brett Budgell delivered a solid open-ice hit to Halifax defencemen Jared McIssac, sending the highly touted NHL prospect tumbling to the ice. That seemed to spark both teams as the physicality only pick up from there.
After 20 minutes of action hard-hitting action came to and end, the game was scoreless with the Mooseheads leading in shots 10-7.
Just 45 second into the second period Daniel Hardie and Pascal Aquin combined for a pretty passing play, with Hardie beating Gravel with his 21st goal of the season to open the scoring.
With momentum on their side the Isles continued to put the pressure on the Mooseheads and less than five minutes later the Isles stuck again with Nikita Alexandrov scoring his 9th goal of the season on a backhand move from in tight.
The Isles would hold onto the two goal lead until the closing minutes of the period when Mooseheads leading scorer Otto Somppi got his stick on a Justin Barron point shot, deflecting the puck past Welsh to cut into the Isles lead.
The Isles would enter the second intermission leading by a goal, despite being outshot 23-20 through two periods.
Midway through the third period the Isles were faced with a scare, as following a scoring chance for Filip Zadina the blade on the left skate of Welsh popped off leaving the netminder swimming in his crease. Welsh would eventually cover up the puck to force a whistle, but with 8:51 on clock he was forced to head to the locker room, spurring backup Dakota Lund-Cornish into action with the game on the line.
Despite coming in cold Lund-Cornish would make two solid saves in his four minutes of relief, keeping the Isles in the lead. As Welsh returned to the ice with a big smile on his face, he congratulated his fellow netminder with a hug and reclaimed his place in the Isles crease for the final minutes.
Less than two minutes after returning to the game Somppi was able to beat Welsh for a second time, getting his stick on a loose puck and poking it past the Isles netminder to tie the game at 2-2.
That is where the score would stay as the final buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra frame the Isles grabbed an early chance but it was Halifax forward Raphael Lavoie who would ultimately beat Welsh to win the game for the Mooseheads. With the goal Lavoie now has 7 overtime winners this season, and a total of 10 game-winning-goals.
Following the game Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton was proud of his team’s performance despite the outcome.
“It’s a tough loss tonight, I thought we played really hard,” Hulton said. “These mid-week games are killers after that road-trip, but I’m really proud of the way out guys battled and competed and I thought we had much better legs than anticipated and, in fact, [we] probably deserved a better fate.”