Thursday, July 3, 2014

2002-03 Halifax Mooseheads Milan Jurcina Jersey

July by the Numbers crosses the Canadian border for jersey #3 today.

Founded in 1994, the Halifax Mooseheads, the Mooseheads were the idea of Harold MacKay, a regional sales manager for Moosehead Breweries, who felt the time was right to obtain a franchise for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, one of three major junior hockey leagues across Canada.

Halifax had teams in the American Hockey League prior to the formation of the Mooseheads, and when the Citadels relocated to Cornwall, the time seemed right to try major junior hockey rather than minor pro hockey. With Moosehead Breweries President and CEO Derek Oland on board with the plan and the vital financial backing, the Mooseheads came to be in time for the 1994-95 QMJHL season despite overcoming the logistical difficulties of all the league's other teams being located exclusively in Quebec at the time.

Players from that first season, in which the Mooseheads qualified for the playoffs, to make an impact in the NHL were goaltender John-Sebastien Giguere and Jody Shelley.

Giguere Mooseheads
John-Sebastien Giguere

More future NHL players arrived, with Marc Chouinard coming in 1995, Alex Tanguay in 1996 and Ladislav Nagy in 1998.

Tanguay Mooseheads
Alex Tanguay

The Mooseheads were chosen to host the Memorial Cup in 2000. It was an exciting time for the Mooseheads as goaltender and future NHLer Pascal Leclaire, aided by a pair of hat tricks by Ramzi Abid, defeated WHL champions Kootaney Ice and OHL champs the Barrie Colts in their first two games. The success of their hosting the Memorial Cup led to Halifax being chosen as host of the 2003 World Junior Championships.

The clubs best season came in 2002-03 when they had their only 100 point season when a 44-15-10 record gave them 101 points to win the Maritimes Division. The Mooseheads made the QMJHL's playoff championship final for the President's Cup for first time that season, falling in seven games.

They returned to the President's Cup Finals again in 2005, only to run into the buzzsaw that was the Sidney Crosby led Rimouski Oceanic.

Two more Mooseheads to enter the NHL were Jakub Voràček in 2008 and most recently and notably, NHL Rookie of the Year Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, who led the Mooseheads to the QMJHL President's Cup as league playoff champions, followed by the 2013 Memorial Cup championship following an outstanding 58-6-3-1 record for a team record 120 points. MacKinnon was both the Memorial Cup leading scorer and Most Valuable Player.

MacKinnon Mooseheads photo MacKinnonMooseheads.jpg
MacKinnon shows off the Memorial Cup 

The club has now retired the numbers of Tanguay (#18), Shelley (#25) and Giguere (#47) and Brandon Benedict is the team's all time leading scorer, with 303 points from 1998 to 2003, 88 points more than second place Brandon Reid and 89 more than Tanguay.

Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 Halifax Mooseheads Milan Jurcina Jersey. This jersey draws it's influences from the Pittsburgh Penguins and their innovative pointed shoulder yoke and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim's groundbreaking diagonal waist striping in an attractive forest green and red color palette.

Halifax Mooseheads jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our video section today consists of highlights of the Mooseheads 2012-13 season, which concluded with their capturing the 2013 Memorial Cup.

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