It was an odd situation, but it doesn’t bother fans of the Halifax Mooseheads one bit.
Despite a 4-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Wednesday at Scotiabank Centre, the Memorial Cup hosts have earned a spot in Sunday’s final.
The Mooseheads, Huskies and Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm all finished with a 2-1 round-robin record, but Jakub Lauko’s go-ahead goal with 55 seconds to go proved to be the difference in the tiebreaker formula.
The Mooseheads and Storm had the exact same goal differential, but the Mooseheads nabbed the bye to the final as a result of their win in Sunday’s head-to-head meeting and have a chance to win their second title in franchise history.
Their first Memorial Cup came in 2013 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in Saskatoon.
“We came out for the third period knowing what everybody knows and I hope I never have to go through that again I’ll be very honest with you,” Mooseheads head coach Eric Veilleux said after the game. “It’s really not easy.”
Meanwhile, the Huskies and Storm will square off in Friday’s semifinal, with the Storm having won their first meeting on Saturday.
“It’s strange to win a game and not be happy,” Huskies general manager and head Coach Mario Pouliot said. “It’s tough to explain but at the end of the day I really liked how we finished.”
In addition to his game-winning marker, Lauko also had an assist to complete a two-point night.
Alexis Arsenault had a pair of helpers for the Huskies, who also got goals from William Rouleau, Felix Bibeau and Joel Teasdale.
Arnaud Durandeau had a goal and an assist to lead the way for the Mooseheads, while Antoine Morand and Benoit-Olivier Groulx also scored.
Samuel Harvey made 24 saves for the Huskies and Alexis Gravel stopped 36 shots for the Mooseheads, who were outshot 18-2 in the final frame.
Meanwhile, the Prince Albert Raiders returned home Wednesday and will be holding a celebration at the Art Hauser Centre Thursday to wrap up their 2018-19 campaign.
The event will get underway at 6 p.m. and will allow fans to get autographs from their favourite and to get a picture with the Ed Chynoweth Cup.