Raiders drop Memorial Cup opener to Halifax

Vincent Ethier/CHL Images Prince Albert Raiders forward Cole Fonstad is hit by Joel Bishop of the Halifax Mooseheads during Friday's opening game of the Memorial Cup.

The Halifax Mooseheads weren’t very welcoming to the Prince Albert Raiders at Scotiabank Centre Friday.

In the opening game of the 2019 Memorial Cup, the tournament hosts came away with a 4-1 win over the Western Hockey League champions in what was the first contest for each side since their respective league finals.

“We had spurts where we were pretty good and in control of the game, but we were also a little slow at times, especially at the start of the game,” Raiders overage forward Noah Gregor said in a post-game media scrum.

“However, when we were playing our game, using our speed and getting zone time, I thought we were solid.”

Halifax, who lost their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship series on home ice to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, opened up the scoring halfway through the first period when Samuel Asselin converted a feed from Raphael Lavoie.

The Mooseheads doubled up their advantage late in the frame as Xavier Parent shot the puck by Ian Scott after a feed from Asselin.

Noah Gregor got the Raiders on the board at the 10:46 mark of the middle frame when he tipped a point shot from Max Martin, but the Mooseheads regained their two-goal advantage a few minutes later on a power-play bomb from Jake Ryczek.

Antoine Morand, who won the Memorial Cup last year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, would round out the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:53 left in the third period.

Maxim Trepanier had three assists to lead the way on offence for the Mooseheads, who received a 23-save performance Alexis Gravel.

Ian Scott made 33 stops for the Raiders, who were outshot 15-4 in the final frame.

Special teams played a big part in the contest as the Raiders were unable to score on four power-play attempts and were on the penalty kill six times.

“It wasn’t great for us on either side,” Gregor said.  “We had three chances on the power play in the first period that we didn’t score on and then we were down a man for almost half of the second, so those are things that we need to work on.”

The Raiders will now have two days off before they return to action on Monday night against the Huskies.

They will conclude their round-robin slate Tuesday against the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm.

The Storm and Huskies will open up their tournament schedules Saturday, while the Mooseheads will be back in action Sunday against the Storm.

With files from Brad Coccimiglio