The P.E.I. Rocket blew a three-goal lead in the third period and lost 7-5 Wednesday to the Halifax Mooseheads at the Civic Centre.
It was a tale of two periods for the Rocket. Everything worked out for P.E.I. in the second period when they outscored the country’s third-ranked team 4-0. The tables were turned in the third when the Moose scored five unanswered.
“I think we got a little too confident,” Rocket defenceman Alex Micallef said in a sombre Rocket dressing room following the game.
“Everybody is a little bit down right now, knowing we had a big lead there and gave it away to the top team. It would be a big honour if we could have beat them.”
With the Rocket leading 3-2 in the second period defenceman Jimmy Oligny took a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind. P.E.I. was able to kill the penalty and used the momentum to pop two power-play goals in the final two minutes of the second to take a commanding 5-2 lead into the intermission.
The Moose didn’t wait long to respond.
Top prospect Nathan MacKinnon snapped a shot high blocker side past Antoine Bibeau 31 seconds into the third period.
“We gave MacKinnon a little bit of a chance to show his skill and he took advantage of it,” Micallef said.
The goal shifted momentum and zapped the energy in the building.
“You could just see that tide turning,” coach Gordie Dwyer said.
The Mooseheads kept coming as a shot from the blue-line with lots of traffic in front found the back of the net at 6:02 and cut the lead to one.
Matthew Boudreau fired a rebound home two minutes later to tie it and Ryan Falkenham potted the winner at 11:25 as the shot deflected in front of Antoine Bibeau.
“Obviously it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Dwyer said. “You have to respect those high-powered clubs. Halifax has game breakers and they found a way to win a hockey game today.”
He was pleased with the top line’s performance, particularly captain Josh Currie. He said losing Oligny, who he called team’s best player, hurt the team leaving them short on the backend.
“With Oligny out I thought that we just didn’t have enough guys doing the right things,” Dwyer said.
It was a big night for Island natives as Brooklyn’s Darcy Ashley had three assists and Brent Andrews had two helpers.
The Rocket dropped to 7-4, while the Mooseheads improved to 10-1.
“It’s always a good benchmark to see where you stand with them,” said Micallef, who had two assists on the night. “It’s nice to know we can always compete with them.”
The teams play again Sunday, Oct. 28, in Halifax.
Game At A Glance:
u Score - Halifax Mooseheads 7 P.E.I. Rocket 5.
u Goal scorers - P.E.I.: Matej Beran (2), Erik Robichaud, Ben Duffy, Josh Currie; Halifax: Steve Gillard (2), Matthew Boudreau (2), Ryan Falkenham, Nathan MacKinnon, Luca Ciampini.
u Assists - P.E.I.: Matej Beran, Antoine Venne, Ben Duffy, Alex Micallef (2), Josh Currie, Nathan Yetman, Alexandre Chenier-Allard, Matthew Bursey; Halifax: Darcy Ashley (3), Steve Gillard (2), Randy Gazzola (2), Brent Andrews (2), Luca Ciampini, Matthew Boudreau, Martin Frk.
u Goaltenders - P.E.I.: Antoine Bibeau, 33 saves on 40 shots;
Halifax: Zachary Fucale, 22 saves on 27 shots.
u Attendance - 1,965 (announced)
u Three stars - 1. Steve Gillard, 2. Matej Beran, 3. Josh Currie
u Up Next - The Rocket travels to Moncton Friday to play the Wildcats at 7 p.m. They are back home Saturday to play the expansion Sher