Coming home with a series split is a well-deserved reward for the Halifax Mooseheads.
They refused to lose in Game 2 of their third-round best-of-seven against the Drummondville Voltigeurs, coming from behind to win 5-4 in double overtime in front of 3,117 fans at the Marcel Dionne Centre in Drummondville on Saturday.
“All around it was a really good effort,” said Halifax assistant coach Sylvain Favreau. “The important thing for us is we stayed even-keeled throughout the game. We had talked about that before the game, and throughout our season for that matter, never get too high and never get too low.
“We always believed that we had a chance to win this one and we just kept pressing. We just wanted to increase our compete level, which we thought lacked in Game 1, and we got rewarded for that.”
The game followed a clear pattern all night, with the Voltigeurs taking one lead after another, only to see the Mooseheads battle back to tie it every time. Drummondville had the edge on three different occasions but couldn’t hold it against a determined Halifax team.
Arnaud Durandeau finally put the game away when he banged in a rebound after a nice play by Maxim Trepanier 5:45 into the second overtime period. The Voltigeurs opened the series with a 3-1 win on Friday.
“We get in to old cliches in the playoffs, like it taking four games to win a series, however you get them,” Favreau said. “For us, the important part today was to get a bounce-back from our effort in Game 1 and we kept at it, even when we got behind.
“I thought all the hard work we put into our conditioning all season really paid off. We were able to keep playing hard all game and to compete in those two OTs.”
The Voltigeurs opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period. Dawson Mercer picked the top corner right off the face-off to put Drummondville ahead 1-0 just before the intermission.
Maxime Desruisseaux stretched that lead to 2-0 when his quick release from the slot 3:43 into the second period found the net.
Raphael Lavoie’s power-play efforts helped the Mooseheads turn the game around a few minutes later. He scored his first of the game on a two-man advantage at the 6:54 mark and then converted again 67 seconds later from the identical spot on the five-on-four.
The 2-2 tie only lasted a few minutes after Maxime Comtois broke down the left wing and put Drummondville back in front 3-2. But just 56 seconds before the second intermission, Lavoie struck again. He gathered the puck in front of the Voltigeurs net and flipped it in to complete his hat trick. He leads the QMJHL in goals (16) and points (24).
Pavel Koltygin put the Voltigeurs ahead one more time 2:32 into the third period when he scored on the rush. But yet again, the Mooseheads answered. Durandeau got to the net on a spectacular individual effort and Samuel Asselin followed to deposit the rebound. The power-play goal came with just 1:19 left on the clock and forced overtime.
The Mooseheads went three-for-four with the man advantage and are now four-for-six for the series.
Alexis Gravel made 38 saves for Halifax and Anthony Morrone stopped 48 shots for Drummondville. The Mooseheads outshot the Voltigeurs 24-8 in overtime, including 10-2 in the second OT period.
“We put a premium on (getting shots) and on hard work this year so they were ready for that type of situation,” Favreau said. “We really stayed composed throughout the game and we kept our eye on the prize. We always believed we could play with them and you look at the shots in OT, when the going got tough our players stuck with it and increased their shot toals even more as the game went on. Our players really executed on our plan.”
Games 3 and 4 are at the Scotiabank Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday. Game 5 will be in Drummondville on Friday. If necessary, Game 6 will be back in Halifax next Sunday and Game 7 will be in Drummondville on April 30.
“If you talked to anybody before the series even started, or anyone that follows the league, you’d know it was going to be a good series,” Favreau said. “We’re evenly matched teams and there are great players on both sides. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about who can stay disciplined to their system and who can push hard and compete for the full 60 in each game.
“It’s going to be a good series the rest of the way and the players and the staff are looking forward to our two games at home. I think we have the best fans in the Quebec league and we’re certainly looking forward to their support.”
BO Groulx, Cole Stewart, Alexis Sansfacon, Marcel Barinka and Samuel Dube did not play for Halifax.
Huskies 4, Oceanic 3:
In Rouyn-Noranda, Felix Bibeau scored his second goal of the game with 40 seconds left in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie and give the Huskies a 2-0 series lead.
Peter Hrehorcak and Noah Dobson had the other goals for the Huskies and Alexis Lafreniere, Carson MacKinnon and Anthony Gagnon were the Oceanic scorers.
Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots for Rouyn-Noranda and Colten Ellis made 40 saves for Rimouski.