Halifax Mooseheads clinch berth in Memorial Cup final
'We decided back in November that the Mooseheads were going to win'
The Halifax Mooseheads have clinched a berth directly into Sunday's final at the Memorial Cup tournament, courtesy of the Portland Winterhawks' win over the host Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday night.
The Winterhawks beat the Blades 4-2, meaning both Halifax and Portland finished the round-robin segment of the tournament with two wins and one loss each. The Mooseheads, however, advance directly to the final because they beat the Winterhawks on Saturday.
George Follett was one of dozens of Halifax Mooseheads fans watching Wednesday's game.
Follett, of Prospect Bay, said he's been banking on Halifax winning since last year.
"We decided back in November that the Mooseheads were going to win the Memorial Cup," he told CBC News.
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The CBC's Michael Dick and Steve Lawrence are in Saskatoon to follow the Mooseheads' campaign for the Memorial Cup.
"So we bought our tickets, we bought our air fare, we bought our hotel."
It's not yet known who will face the Mooseheads at Sunday's final to decide the Canadian Hockey League champion.
The Saskatoon Blades will now face the London Knights in Thursday's tiebreaker game and the winner of that game moves on to face the Portland Winterhawks in Friday's semifinal.
"We've been following the Mooseheads from when they started in 1994," said Rick Bower, who also made the trip from Prospect Bay to Saskatoon.
"We had to come for this. This is our year. It's just been an awesome experience and the Moose are going to win."
Winterhawks down Blades 4-2
Derrick Pouliot, Brenden Leipsic and Ty Rattie had the other goals for Portland, which got 29 saves from Mac Carruth.
Josh Nicholls and Shane McColgan replied for Saskatoon, while Andrey Makarov stopped 30 shots in taking the loss.
Following a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in the second. Pouliot opened the scoring at 6:44 after jumping on a Blades turnover and firing a shot from the sideboards that fooled Makarov through the five-hole.
Saskatoon got a 5-on-3 power play later in the period and didn't generate much of anything until McColgan, who hit the post moments earlier, fired a shot past Carruth that deflected in off a Winterhawks player in front with a second left on the second penalty to tie the score at 11:20.
Portland had a golden opportunity to retake the lead when Blades left-winger Michael Ferland took a double minor for high sticking with just over four minutes remaining in the period.
Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones, the No. 1 ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting ahead of June's draft, had a good chance off the rush but fired wide as the Blades weathered the storm and were saluted off the ice by a standing ovation from the crowd of 9,239 at the Credit Union Centre.