The QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads will have to wait a little longer to play their first regular season tilt.
Hurricane Fiona postponed two games over the weekend on Sept. 23 and 24 games against the Charlottetown Islanders. In addition, this Friday, Sept. 30's game in Cape Breton is off due to the damage caused by the storm and ongoing power outages.
Their new opening game will be this Saturday, Oct. 1 against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on home ice.
Head coach Sylvain Favreau looks forward to this year’s team showing what they can do, and is getting them prepped for this week’s two games.
“We’re pretty used to schedule changes after COVID. Our training camps are also always a hurry-up-and-wait, with one part before Labour Day and the other after,” he said.
“We were disappointed we couldn’t start at the same time as everyone else, but safety was the priority during the hurricane. The guys are just itching to get going.”
It was a hard-fought set of tilts against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan last year in the playoffs, but the Moose ultimately were downed 3-2 in the series.
Favreau was pleased with his team’s play, and saw a high compete level from them.
“We had them on the ropes. The work ethic and compete level was in our favour. We played an older team, and we were so close,” he said.
He signals to the triple-overtime game on May 11 at the Scotiabank Centre. In front of a crowd of 3,850, the Mooseheads were downed 4-3 after a hard-fought game.
“Even in that game, it really could have gone either way. That series helped us understand that little extra we need to close a series, a game, or manage a game. We now have that experience in our back pocket, and can use it to our advantage.”
Coach Favreau has seen a lot of development and lessons learned that will make for an interesting 2022-2023 season.
“The success we had last year has built a foundation of winning habits. We showed we had opportunities to take on divisional rivals, and we’ve been building off that,” he said.
“We’ve just been progressing, maturing and it was a much-needed playoff experience for a young group. We want to be in a position by Christmas to be ready for a deep playoff run.”
He sees a few key strengths that can bring the team far this year.
“Offensively, we definitely have a knack to score goals. We have skill and speed, which will be big things,” he said.
“We just need to give up fewer scoring chances and goals. We know offensively we are capable, and have depth up-and-down the roster. We just hope to clean up defensively.”
Left-winger James Swan is headed into his third year with the team, and he’s hoping for a big one. He played in 56 games last season, amassing 10 goals and 11 assists. He also had two points in five games during the playoffs last year.
“We have a similar team this year than the last few years. We’re a fast, offensive group,” he said. “We have so many front-end threats, and quick defensemen. We know how to move the puck.”
Swan broke his hand last September at practice and ended up out for a number of games last season. He looks forward to getting a full season in.
“I faced a lot of adversity last year, and I’m looking forward to bouncing back and playing a big role within the team,” he said. “I’ll be playing a 200-foot game and can’t wait to get going.”
“Most of us have been together since the 2020 COVID year. That plays to our advantage with our chemistry on-and-off the ice. I’m excited for a normal year without shutdowns, and to see what we can do with it.”
He sees the offensive side of their game as a huge plus, and says they are ready to compete at a high level.
“We learned last year we are ready to take on anyone. We put Acadie-Bathurst to the brink of elimination in the playoffs last year. We are ready to make it far, and win it all,” he said.
“This year we have more experience, we are older, and have another year under our belt. I’m excited.”
He sees a need to ensure they do keep an eye on the other end of the ice as well.
“Because we are such an offensive threat, we must continue to have a solid back-end to give us the freedom to create chances,” he said. “There is always room to improve, but that solid back-end will allow us to be more dangerous overall.”
With the opening game Saturday against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Swan sees them as can’t-miss hockey.
“We see each other a lot, and it’s always an interesting battle of Nova Scotia,” he said. “It’s a great divisional rivalry, and a nice way to kick things off and get them going.”
For more information on the team and to view their schedule, visit the Mooseheads' website.