By Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
SASKATOON - The Halifax Mooseheads finally got the start they wanted.
© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards.
Halifax Mooseheads right winger Stefan Fournier, left, and right winger Darcy Ashley celebrate a goal as London Knights defenceman Dakota Mermis looks on during the first period of Memorial Cup action in Saskatoon, Sask. on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
After being upset by the Memorial Cup host Saskatoon Blades two nights ago, the Mooseheads erupted for a five-goal first period en route to an 9-2 beat down of the London Knights before 9,237 fans at the Credit Union Centre on Tuesday night.
Perhaps no one was more thrilled about the victory than Mooseheads forward Darcy Ashley, who scored a pair of first period goals, his first since the second round of the Herd’s playoff run.
“It’s been a long time,” said Ashley, who finished with three points. “It’s always nice to pot a couple and especially early in the game to get the boys going. That what the vets were looking to do tonight, set the tone early.”
Capitalizing on a sluggish London squad playing in back-to-back games, the Herd got the ball rolling with Stefan Fournier’s power play goal 7:43 into the contest and ended the onslaught when Ryan Falkenham ripped a laser by Knights goaltender Anthony Stolarz to give the Mooseheads a 7-0 lead just before the midpoint of the middle frame.
The Mooseheads played virtually flawless until London scored back-to-back goals in 1:18 seconds. But Halifax quickly righted the ship when Mooseheads forward Martin Frk collected his third goal of the night with just under two minutes left in the second period to give Halifax a six-goal cushion into the final frame.
“We have so much depth, that’s one of our strongest points and it showed tonight.” said Mooseheads co-captian Trey Lewis. “We were disappointed in our performance last game and we really wanted to show how we can really perform.”
Mooseheads netminder Zach Fucale had a great bounce back performance, making 26 saves in his second victory of the tournament.
“The first two starts of the tournament, we didn’t come out the way we wanted to,” said Fucale. “Tonight we were ready for it. We came out focused, we started early and we just kept rolling.”
It was just one of those nights where everything fell apart for the Knights and their head coach Dale Hunter.
“It happens,” he said. “I’ve been on a bigger playing field than this and these kind of games happen, we were tired… It happens in hockey.”
The Mooseheads, who opened the tournament with a win over Portland, finished their round robin games with a 2-1 record. They can earn a bye into Sunday’s final if Portland beats Saskatoon on Wednesday, and are guaranteed a spot in Friday’s semifinal.
Luca Ciampini and Brent Andrews each scored to round out the scoring for the Herd. Mooseheads forwards Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists each.
Seth Griffith and Matt Rupert responded with goals for London.