Your Halifax Moooooooseheads open up the season tonight on the road in “The Dog House” to play the defending QMJHL Champs the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Mooseheads are ready to make the next step this season!
The Maritimes Division is up for grabs with the defending champs, the Saint John Sea Dogs, and the powerhouse Charlottetown Islanders both losing key veterans. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are early favourites to win the division and after finishing at the bottom of the league, a re-tooled Moncton Wildcats can only go up. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fall somewhere in the middle.
Realistically, the Mooseheads could finish top three in the division and somewhere in the middle of the standings. Last year, the Herd finished 15th and didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final weekend of the season. The poor finish combined with trades gave the Herd a handful of high draft picks in the QMJHL and CHL Import draft.
The fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft, centre Xavier Parent, led the team in pre-season scoring with eight points. Local hometown Halifax Mac’s star defenceman Justin Barron, selected 13th overall, joins a bloated eight-man blueline while Walter Flower and Jordan LePage sit out with injuries.
All eyes will be on Czech winger Filip Zadina, the 11th overall pick of the CHL import draft and a skilled player currently projected to go in the first round of the NHL draft in June. He’ll help fill the hole left by Nico Hischier who should be in the NHL all season after going first overall to the New Jersey Devils in June. Nico scored his first NHL preseason goal earlier this week!
Groulx and defenceman Jared McIsaac could also join Zadina in the first round of the 2018 NHL draft.
Goalie Alexis Gravel is back for his second season and is also one to watch in his NHL draft year. After backup Blade Mann-Dixon went down with an injury, Gravel started every game and was named to the QMJHL rookie all-star team.
Halifax opens the season with a three-game road trip starting in Saint John on tonight.
The Herd’s home-opener is next Saturday, September 30th versus the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at 7 p.m. See ya there!