Wildcats respond to shakeup

WILLY PALOV -- Halifax Herald

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

A coaching change produced the desired result in Moncton on Sunday.

The Wildcats beat the red-hot Halifax Mooseheads 4-0 at the Moncton Coliseum just hours after head coach Christian Larue was fired. Assistant coach Daniel Lacroix was named Larue's replacement.

Adam Pineault used his heavy shot to register a pair of goals and also set up another late in the third period. Steve Bernier and Ian-Mathieu Girard had the other goals for the Wildcats as they bounced back from a humbling 9-1 loss to the Rimouski Oceanic on Friday.

Corey Crawford was steady in stopping 35 shots for the win but also made a few spectacular saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season. His best stop was a desperate stab at F.P. Guenette's shot from the doorstep midway through the second period.

The Wildcats opened the scoring when Bernier blasted a long shot past Halifax goalie Jason Churchill at 11:44 of the second period on the power play. Pineault notched his first of the game when his wicked wrist shot squeezed past Churchill and rolled slowly over the line at 19:22 of the second period.

Pineault beat Churchill again from far out when he fired a laser into the top corner from the blue-line at 7:12 of the third period. Pineault collected an assist on Moncton's fourth goal, sending a cross-ice pass to Girard for a one-timer on a three-on-one at 17:18 of the third period.

The win moves the Wildcats five points up on the Mooseheads for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Mooseheads had gotten to within striking distance of the Wildcats with eight wins in their previous nine games prior to Sunday, but the Wildcats slowed their pursuit with the convincing win. The Mooseheads still have four games in hand.

Larue was in his sixth season with the organization - two as an assistant coach and four as the head coach. He had the Wildcats in second place overall in the league with a 29-15-4-1 record, just one season after leading them to their first apperance in the league final.

The Wildcats had been 3-8-1 since Dec. 19 before Sunday's win and it's not surprising team owner Robert Irving shook things up.

Notes - Mooseheads leading scorer Daniel Sparre did not play because of the flu, centre David Brine was out with a minor knee injury and defenceman Jean-Francois Brault (knee) is still not quite in game shape. Brault skated in practice all week and should return to game action soon. Forwards Ryan Hillier and Kenzie Sheppard were healthy scratches. . . . Moncton was without three of its top players. Forward Martin Karsums is sidelined with an ankle injury, winger Bruce Graham has a broken leg and defenceman Francois Caron has a knee injury. . . . There were only an estimated 2,500 fans at the game because of the blizzard.


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