In the end, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were just too strong, too determined and too good.
The Halifax Mooseheads saw their dream of a Memorial Cup come to an end Sunday night, losing 4-2 in the championship game to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Halifax scored late in the first period and early in the second to lead 2-0 before Rouyn-Noranda showed why they were the Canadian Hockey League's top-ranked team this season.
The Huskies scored a pair to tie it before the second period was over and then added two more in the opening 5:03 of the third period.
Then it was shut the door time, holding Halifax to just nine shots on net in the final period despite the goalie being pulled for the last three minutes.
"I have to admit, we were playing a very solid hockey team. They weren't first overall for no reason," said Halifax coach Eric Veilleux.
"Obviously a year like this is very disappointing for our players and fans. But as a coach I couldn't be more proud of what our team did," Veilleux said.
"It's hard, but I'm so proud of this team. It was an honour to be captain," said the Mooseheads Antoine Morand.
"I'm going to be a mess for a couple of days, but at the end of this day everybody on this team can hold their head up. They were incredible. We went through so much adversity, we fell down so many times but we always got back up.
"We wanted it so much, but it didn't happen. It just sucks," Morand said.
For the Huskies it was their first Memorial Cup championship since the franchise relocated to Rouyn-Noranda from St. Hyacinthe in 1996. They lost in overtime to the London Knights in the 2016 final.
"It's a real special group," said Huskies superb defenceman Noah Dobson, who played exceptionally well in both the semifinal win over Guelph and in the championship game Sunday.
"That shows the amount of character in our room. We knew that once we got one they'd start to feel the pressure so we just kept going," Dobson said. "To score four unanswered against a home crowd is a pretty unbelievable accomplishment."
Memorial Cup MVP Joel Teasdale said it was the Huskies' chemistry and depth that was the key to their success.
"Every player can do a little something in a game and everybody brought that to the tournament."
Rouyn-Noranda coach Mario Pouliot said the comeback was a testament to his team's resiliency.
"We were down 2-0 but we found the energy, the character, to bounce back," said Pouliot, the CHL coach of the year.
Rouyn-Noranda's Dobson and Felix Bibeau were named to the tournament all-star team, along with Halifax's Gravel and Benoit-Olivier Groulx, and the Guelph Storm's Sean Durzi and Isaac Ratcliffe.