Halifax's Stephen MacAulay is trying to win a championship for the third year in a row (The Canadian Press)You’ll have to forgive Halifax Mooseheads forward Stephen MacAulay for playing with some extra weight in his step in the coming weeks, but he will have his teammates behind him every step of the way.
Last week, MacAulay received word that his mother had succumbed to her lengthy battle with cancer.
In January, MacAulay, with a five-year QMJHL veteran with two President’s Cups and a Memorial Cup on his resume, was traded to Halifax by the Saint John Sea Dogs. The trade made sense on a hockey level, as the Mooseheads added an overage forward who can put up points and provide character for a younger juggernaut squad. However, MacAulay asked for the trade to be closer to his ailing mother, and the Mooseheads obliged, sending two picks Saint John’s way, including a second-rounder in 2014.
MacAulay has been given special permission to miss games to be with his family, and the Mooseheads have said he can take all the time he needs to be with them in their time of need.
The Mooseheads quickly embraced their new teammate and helped him cope with his family’s hard time.
“Stephen is one of our brothers,” netminder Zachary Fucale said to RDS.ca. “The team and the fans are behind him no matter what.”
In a unique and touching gesture, his old team, the Saint John Sea Dogs, were Halifax’s opponent the day of the funeral proceedings. MacAulay’s old team made arrangements to arrive in Cole Harbour, N.S., in time to allow his former teammates to pay their respects. Florida Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau flew in from Miami to aid his ailing ex-teammate.
“The second we heard about it we made the plan that no matter what we weren’t going to miss it,” said Sea Dogs captain Pierre Durepos. “Whatever it was going to take, we were going to be here and I think he appreciated that.”
MacAulay has 26 points in 25 games since joining the Mooseheads in January. Halifax, who finished on top of the league standings with a league record-tying 58 wins, starts their playoff push against MacAulay’s former team, the Sea Dogs, Friday night.