It wasn’t supposed to unfold like this.
After an emotionally charged banner raising ceremony to celebrate their past President and Memorial Cup season, the Halifax Mooseheads appeared destined for victory.
But the visiting Moncton Wildcats had other ideas, spoiling the Herd’s home opener with a three goal first period, en route to a 4-0 victory before 9,301 fans at the Metro Centre on Thursday night.
“We’re not here to make excuses, we’re here to play our game; that wasn’t the type of game we know we can play, and it’s disappointing,” said Mooseheads veteran forward Luca Ciampini. “But there’s no doubt that we’re going to be a competitive hockey team.”
With guns blazing from the get go, the visitors wasted no time taking advantage of a team that met them flat footed and scattered. Though emerging in the second period a more regrouped and refocused squad, the Mooseheads were unable to capitalize on several scoring chances.
Then the Wildcats added insult to injury with another goal in the final frame, extending their lead to 4-0.
Despite his disappointment, Ciampini pointed out some positives.
“We had a slow start and they got a couple bounces their way. I thought we got better as the game gradually went on. We were snake bitten. But we’re a much better team than we showed.”
Mooseheads forward Nikolaj Ehlers said his team simply wasn’t ready.
“We had a bad start and we never really got into the game again,” he said. “We need some more games; we need more time to get to know each other. What we did today is not close to the effort we’re capable of.”
Cody Drover led Moncton with a pair of goals while Ivan Barbashev and Ryan Penny rounded out the scoring for the Wildcats.
Wildcats goalie Alex Dubeau racked up 28 saves for the shutout victory while Mooseheads netminder Kevin Darveau stopped 28 shots in the loss.
It didn’t help the Mooseheads’ cause that four of their regulars were out of the line up, including goaltender Zach Fucale, Brent Andrews and MacKenzie Weegar, who are attending NHL camps, along with Darcy Ashley, who’s nursing a hand injury.
The Mooseheads hit the road Friday to face the Charlottetown Islanders at 7 p.m.
Mooseheads championship banners raised in moving ceremony
You know it’s going to be a big night when Jody Shelley shows up to the rink.
That it was.
It was fitting that Shelley, perhaps the all-time most popular Moosehead, was at ice surface to watch the Herd’s 2013 President and Memorial Cup banners being raised to the rafters. A pair of other franchise favourites in Jason King and Travis Randell joined him.
The moment finally came after an electric and moving tribute video was played on the big screen, capturing each historic moment along that remarkable run.
With a fired up crowd behind them, the Mooseheads gathered together to watch the two banners slowly rise.
“It was special,” said Ciampini, a member of the championship team. “The boys were kind of emotional watching it. It’s a nice reminder for us and all the fans and everyone who ever player here.
“Seeing the trophy and the banners has motivated us. We’re not here to just play hockey, we’re here to win.”