HALIFAX – Never have the Halifax Mooseheads celebrated a loss with so much joy.
Despite losing 4-3 to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies Wednesday night in the final round robin game of the Memorial Cup, the Mooseheads advance to Sunday's championship game thanks to the tournament's tie-breaking formula.
The Huskies will meet the Guelph Storm in Friday's semifinal.
All three teams finished the round robin with 2-1 records.
Rouyn-Noranda scored the only two goals of the first period before the Mooseheads rallied for the only three goals of the second period, by Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Arnaud Durandeau and Antoine Morand.
But the Huskies' William Rouleau scored at 10:13 of the third to tie the game, then Jakub Lauko scored with 55 seconds left in the third period to put the Huskies up by one.
Had they been able to make it 5-3 Guelph would have finished in first place and Halifax would have been playing in the semifinal.
"It's strange a bit, winning a game and being not happy," Huskies coach Mario Pouliot said after the game.
Halifax coach Eric Veilleux said it was a tough game psychologically.
"I hope I never have to go through that again. I'll be very honest, it's not easy," Veilleux said.
The coaches were more tuned in to the situation than most of the players.
Veilleux said his players "decided to leave all their phones in my office this morning" to avoid the social media chatter about the tie-breaking formula.
"I said we just need to play to win the game, play a solid game, then worry about the third period," Veilleux said.
"And then I told them it's got to stay 4-3," Veilleux said.
"We just decided to put our phones away and not look at any social media and go into it as a normal hockey game and try and get the win," said Mooseheads' defenceman Patrick Kyte.
"With about seven or eight minutes left we did know the situation and we played some solid D."
"It's definitely a different situation to lose a game and to move on the final, but we're happy with our effort tonight. We've got a chance at the cup.
"It's obviously a weird way, but we're happy to go."
Guelph beat Rouyn-Noranda 5-2 in the round robin, the first game of the tournament for both teams.
Friday's semifinal and Sunday's championship game are both at 8 p.m.