MACS DOWN YOUNG NATIONALS IN TELUS CUP OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Josh Crooks scored both goals, including the game-winner early in the third period, to help the Halifax Macs edge the Toronto Young Nationals 2-1 in the opening game Monday at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
Liam Oxner made 33 saves for the Macs, who won their curtain-raiser at Canada’s National Midget Championship for the fourth time in six all-time appearances.
Crooks needed just 32 seconds of the third period to give Halifax the lead for good; the puck found its way onto his stick in the slot, and his lightning-quick release beat Toronto goaltender James Gray to the glove side.
Oxner was the story in the first period, keeping the game scoreless despite Halifax being outshot 14-3.
The Macs struck for the opening goal in the first minute of the second when Daniel Kline sprung Crooks, and he slipped a backhand through the legs of Gray.
Toronto finally solved Oxner late in the middle frame; a shot from Elias Cohen bounced up and over the Halifax netminder to send the game to the intermission even at 1-1.
The second period was the busiest for both teams, with the Macs holding a 14-12 edge in shots on goal.
Chances came at both ends after the Crooks goal in the third; the Macs failed to capitalize on a trio of chances to extend their lead on the power play, while the Young Nationals hit a late post that would have tied the game.
Dropping its opener is nothing new to Toronto. It has started with a loss in all four of its TELUS Cup appearances over the last six years, including 2015 when it won the national title.
Halifax will look for a 2-0 start when it takes on the Cantonniers de Magog on Tuesday (12 p.m. ET), right before the Young Nationals face off against the Calgary Buffaloes (4 p.m. ET).