The Halifax Mooseheads are heading to the QMJHL finals for the first time since 2005, and fans who have stood by them through thick and thin say it’s been worth the wait.
The team clinched their spot in the President Cup series Thursday night, scoring their 12th straight win in the playoffs.
"It’s exciting," said Karen Williams, one of the organizers of the Halifax Mooster Club, the official fan club of the team. "It’s been a rough few years, so it’s a nice payoff."
Williams has been a loyal fan for 15 years. She said she never gave up hope that the Moose could win it all, even when the team was at rock bottom just a few years ago.
"They have a lot of talent, a lot of skill, which can take you a long way. When it comes down to it, they have everything, they have the skill, they have the heart."
The team has dominated the league this year. Many, including fan Myles Dennis, say forward Nathan MacKinnon is the reason for the dramatic turn-around.
Dennis has been a season ticket holder for 11 years. He said he’ll never forget when he heard the Moose signed MacKinnon in 2011.
"I was ecstatic because I’ve heard so much about this young guy from Cole Harbour. I thought that was the turning point right there."
MacKinnon is one of three Mooseheads who top the NHL draft rankings this year. MacKinnon scored the second spot, with teammate Jonathan Drouin placing third.
Goalie Zach Fucale is the number one goaltending prospect.
With their talent, Dennis said he has no doubt the Mooseheads will win the final series and end up at the Memorial Cup national tournament in Saskatoon.
"This is it, we’re going for it this year," said Dennis, who has already booked his trip to see that series.
Williams said she’s also confident but nervous about the Mooseheads’ prospects in the President Cup.
"This is their third time there, so hopefully third time’s the charm."
Lineups for tickets
There have been long lineups for tickets during this playoff run, and that’s expected to continue when the first seats for the President Cup finals go on sale Tuesday morning. The series will start Friday in Halifax.
But the Mooseheads don’t know who they’ll be facing off with just yet. Their opponents will be the winner of the Blainville-Boisbriand and Baie-Comeau series.