The Halifax Mooseheads’ rookies continued to shine on Sunday.
The Mooseheads, icing just two returning players, skated to a 3-2 win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Sydney, getting the game-winning goal with just 2:14 remaining on a penalty shot from roster hopeful Liam Alcalde.
They’re now 2-0 in the QMJHL pre-season after also beating the Screaming Eagles 3-2 at the Halifax Forum on Saturday.
“We approached those games like any other game we play all year,” said Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme. “Guys really competed hard in those two games and paid attention to the little things that make you win. It was good to see the commitment of everyone involved.”
Forward Mike Molloy opened the scoring for Halifax in the first period before the Screaming Eagles grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second on goals from Avery Clarke and Zach Beaton.
But defenceman Randy Gazolla, auditioning for one of two or three openings on the blue line, evened things up at 11:23, and Alcalde won it after drawing a penalty shot on a shorthanded opportunity.
Marc-Olivier Daigle, with 10 saves on 12 shots, and Jason Ellis, stopping all seven shots he faced, shared time in the Halifax goal.
In Saturday’s win, it was Max Lindsay, Joel Blanchard and Brian Lovell scoring, while Daigle and Chris Clarke split time in goal.
With a half-dozen roster openings, the impressive rookie performances are making decisions harder for the Mooseheads’ staff.
“Everyone is playing up to their potential, and that’s what we want to see from the guys coming to camp,” Ducharme said. “We have to have a lot of discussions to decide what’s going to be the next step.”
A round of cuts is expected on Monday morning as veterans report for off-ice registration at Cole Harbour Place on Monday before hitting the ice Tuesday.
Seventeen returning Mooseheads are on the way — two goaltenders, five defencemen and 10 forwards — as well as off-season over-age acquisition Stefan Fournier, a right-winger.
They’ll join 25 rookie campers, a group that includes returning defenceman Josh Desmond, minus any cuts.
“The rookies need to build on what they did these past four days, fight for those spots that are available and challenge the veterans,” Ducharme said.
Second-year stars Nathan MacKinnon, Zach Fucale and Jonathan Drouin will be given some extra time to recover from the Ivan Hlinka under-18 memorial tournament and will not join the team immediately.
“We’ll give them a few days off,” said Ducharme, who didn’t pin down a specific return date.
The Mooseheads hold morning practices all week before pre-season games against the Moncton Wildcats on Friday in Moncton and Saturday in Wolfville.