Mooseheads Training Camp: Standouts from Day One
It’s been a mere eighty-one days since the Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Portland Winterhawks to capture the franchise’s first ever Memorial Cup title. With the taste of victory still fresh and the memories of triumph unfading, the Herd took to the ice last night for an inter-squad game.
The bleachers at Cole Harbour Place were filled with family members, team management and diehard fans. The aforesaid spectators peered through foggy glass to catch a glimpse of the new faces – Danish import Nikolaj Ehlers; 34th overall pick in the 2013 QMJHL draft, Maxime Fortier; and American standout, Connor Moynihan among many others.
Team Red opened the scoring when 16-year-old Jean-Sebastien Taillefer connected with Moncton, NB native Samuel LeBlanc. Taillefer, who last skated with the AYHL’s Wilkes-Barre Knights, caught Team Green on a mistimed line change and then stretched the ice with near-perfect precision to find an unmolested LeBlanc who would make no mistake once in all alone.
LeBlanc’s early goal would not be the only time the 17-year-old would stand out. Throughout the scrimmage the five-foot-ten forward displayed his well cultivated vision in creating several scoring chances. The former Moncton Flyer showed patience and poise atypical of what one would expect from a rookie.
After veteran Andrew Ryan tied things up, Jordan King whipped one off of the post and in to put Team Green up 2-1. King was born in Brampton, Ontario but is a product of Newfoundland minor hockey, playing for the Western Kings of the NLMMHL. In twenty-four games last season, the six-foot-one right-winger, managed nine goals and twenty-one assists for thirty total points. This was good enough to earn King rookie-of-the-year honours. Drafted 128th overall by the Mooseheads in this summer’s draft, King will turn 16-years-old this September.
The two teams would trade goals back and forth until returnee Luca Ciampini scored the game-winner making it 4-3 for Team Green. An empty-net goal would be added for a final score of 5-3.
It wasn’t just the goal-scorers who impressed, however.
European import Nikolaj Ehlers treated fans to his swift skating and rapid decision-making. Born in Denmark, Ehlers played an impressive eleven games for Biel of the NLA last season as a 16-year-old sharing the bench with the likes of Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane. The son of Danish superstar, Heinz Ehlers, scored eleven times representing his native country in three different tournaments last year.
The Halifax Mooseheads were inactive during the first round of this summer’s draft but with the 34th pick in the second round the Herd selected Lachine, QC native Maxime Fortier. The diminutive forward exhibited bursts of speed on several occasions and was unafraid when battling six-foot-eight defender, Jean-Philippe Provencher in the corners. Fortier recorded twenty-five points for Lac St-Louis of the QMAAA last season.
Fifty-eight picks later, the Mooseheads drafted New Hampshirite Connor Moynihan. At six-foot-three and two-hundred-and-five pounds, Moynihan stood out as soon as he hit the ice. Wearing number fourteen for Team Red, his resemblance to NHL superstar Jamie Benn was uncanny. A big forward with tremendous hands and clean strides, Moynihan held the interest of partisans for the entire game. The 16-year-old managed eighteen points in nineteen games with the Islanders of the EJEPL last season, leading the entire league in penalty minutes while doing so.
Team Green may have won the game but this night was for forty-seven individuals vying for a spot on the 20th edition of the Halifax Mooseheads.
Practices and scrimmages will continue at Cole Habour place for the next two days before the Mooseheads host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Saturday in preseason action.