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Zack Jones provided some validation for the Halifax Mooseheads Tuesday night in Sydney.
The 19-year-old centre scored two minutes into overtime to deliver a 4-3 win and make the most of a strong road performance that saw the Mooseheads outshoot the Eagles 44-19.
"It was a gritty win," said Halifax head coach J.J. Daigneault. "I don't think we had one bad shift during the course of the game. Everybody pushed hard and pushed to get better every shift. Obviously we did outshoot them two to one and we did close to the same thing against them in Halifax but we just weren't rewarded that night.
"And shots on net are one thing but it doesn't always determine the outcome of the game. Tonight our best players were the best players on the ice. ... It was a huge team effort."
It also helped that the Mooseheads' top two forwards shook themselves out of a frustrating slump. Leading scorer Elliot Desnoyers notched his first goal in 10 games and linemate Zachary L'Heureux snapped a five-game pointless streak with a goal and an assist. The third member of the trio, Bobby Orr, scored his third goal in two games.
"The whole line was good and they carried the play," Daigneault said. "They played with pace and they spent most of their shifts in the offensive zone. I can't recall seeing them in our D zone that much during the game so it's fun for them to play that way. And most of the time it started with making the right play at the offensive blue line. They managed the puck well and they were also rewarded with getting the puck back and getting some extended possession in the offensive zone. They were really good."
Forward Senna Peeters also returned to the Halifax lineup after missing eight games with an injury and he set up two goals, as did Justin Barron and Cam Whynot. Peeters made a nice pass to Jones on the game-winner.
"Those two guys click well together," Daigneault said. "There's some good chemistry there going back to last year. It was nice to see Senna back after missing some games. He came back and looked like he didn't miss a beat. He had some good offensive zone time as well and had a shooting mentality with the puck. And both of those guys also played well defensively."
Connor Trenholm, Nathan Larose and Emile Hegarty-Aubin were the Cape Breton scorers and William Grimard earned first star with 40 saves. Halifax's Brady James stopped 16 shots, including a critical save on a Dawson Stairs penalty shot in the first minute of the third period.
"Brady made some really timely saves," Daigneault said. "Obviously he stopped the penalty shot but there was also one chance for them with about 90 seconds left in the game and he made a great pad save. That's what we needed."
The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Mooseheads (9-13-3-3) and the Eagles drop to 11-14-0-0.
Notes: Keegan Hunt, Alexandre Tessier, Brendan Tomilson and Attilio Biasca did not play for Halifax because of injuries and Kyle Petten and William Robitaille were scratched. ... The Eagles, Mooseheads and Charlottetown Islanders will continue to play each other exclusively until at least March 14. The QMJHL added more dates to the three-team rotation on Tuesday, with new Halifax home games scheduled for March 9 (Charlottetown), March 11 (Cape Breton) and March 14 (Charlottetown). The Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs have not yet been cleared to resume games, although COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick continue to drop and are now down to 75.