Mooseheads co-captain Trey Lewis (Ghyslain Bergeron, The Canadian Press)SASKATOON, Sask. — There are two ways Trey Lewis and his Halifax Mooseheads mates can take the groundswell of support spawned by their run to the Memorial Cup final.
It could causes the walls around a tight-knit group to collapse inwardly. Or it could be one of the spoils of having gone up an incline as steep as Halifax's landmark Citadel Hill across the past four seasons, from 13 wins in 2009-10 to only 12 losses across 88 regular- and post-season games this season.
Even though the Mooseheads team had the longest distance to travel to the tournament among the three league champs, red-and-green clad fans have steadily popped up in Saskatoon. Back in the Nova Scotia capital, fans have gathered in the city's Grand Parade to watch telecasts on a projection screen. Playoff games at the 10,595-seat Metro Centre have sold out in fewer than 30 minutes, which is unheard of even in precincts where major junior hockey is big business.
"It's all about maturity," Lewis says. "Being confident and embracing that and making it work to our advantage, that’s worked for us all year. Playing in front of that many fans has helped us. Even when we’re on the road and we’re seeing them watching it on the big screen in Halifax, it’s pretty incredible, really.
The Moose mania is a reminder that Halifax is a scale-model Canadian answer to another sports-mad East Coast city.
"I didn’t realize how much support we had until we started doing well," says star centre Nathan MacKinnon, who as every hockey liker knows by now, is from the Halifax suburb of Cole Harbour. "You could compare it to a Boston, that’s for sure."Read More »from 2013 Memorial Cup: Halifax Mooseheads who have been around the longest marvel at turnaround