HALIFAX—Samuel Asselin opened the scoring and set up another as the Halifax Mooseheads beat the Prince Albert Raiders 4-1 on Friday in the Memorial Cup opener.
Alexis Gravel did his part for Halifax with 23 saves. Xavier Parent, Jake Ryczek and Antoine Morand also scored for the host Mooseheads while Maxim Trepanier chipped in with three assists.
The 20-year-old Asselin, who won a Memorial Cup with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan last season before a trade sent him to Halifax, led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 48 goals in the regular season and potted nine more in the playoffs.
Noah Gregor found the back of the net for the Western Hockey League champion Raiders.
Leafs prospect Ian Scott stopped 33 of 36 shots in defeat.
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Round-robin play at the national major junior hockey championship continues Saturday with the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm against the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who beat the Mooseheads for the President’s Cup on Saturday.
A crowd of 9,926 at Scotiabank Centre was chanting “We want the Cup” before the first puck dropped, and Halifax gave them even more reason to cheer by going ahead 2-0 in the first period.
Raphael Lavoie took the puck below the goal line and got a friendly pick from the official on a Raiders defenceman before centring a pass out front to Asselin, who one-timed it past Scott from in close at 10:49 of the first, on what started out as a broken play.
Asselin fooled Scott with a fake shot and pass to Parent, who had a wide-open net to put the puck into at 18:44 as the Raiders defencemen were caught out of position to double the lead.
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The Mooseheads thought they’d scored less than three minutes into the game, only for the goal to be called off for goalie interference on forward Arnaud Durandeau.
The Raiders had the only three power-play chances in the opening 20 minutes, but found themselves down 2-0 entering the second.
The Mooseheads didn’t let up to start the second and were outshooting Prince Albert 10-1 halfway through the frame, but Scott made a couple timely saves.
Scott’s efforts paid off when Gregor, from the top of the crease, tipped a Max Martin point shot past Gravel at 10:46 to make it 2-1 Halifax.
The Raiders took four straight minor penalties in the second and it came back to haunt them on the fourth. Ryczek restored the two-goal lead for the Mooseheads on a man advantage with 4:08 to play in the second, blasting a one-timer past Scott from the top of the face-off circle on a cross-ice feed from Trepanier.
The Raiders made their best effort in the third to tie the game, but the Mooseheads didn’t sit back and a checking to the head penalty by Prince Albert’s Martin with seven minutes to play halted any chance they had.
Scott was pulled with 2:25 to go only for Morand to add an empty netter.