Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
Dominique Ducharme has got his players exactly where he wants them.
That’s not surprising, given the Halifax Mooseheads’ bench boss witnessed them steamroll over the Charlottetown Islanders in their opening playoff round sweep.
“I really like our mindset, and that’s a point that can be worrisome for a coach,” said Ducharme. “But our approach as a team is really good. We start practicing again on Monday, and I know the guys are coming in and are ready to go.”
Not only are the Herd’s big guns rolling (Jonathan Drouin, Nikolaj Ehlers and Philippe Gadoury have combined for 30 points), but its supporting cast has chipped in, too. Defenceman Mackenzie Weegar has two goals and six assists, so far. Forwards Luca Ciampini and Danny Moynihan have collected seven and five points respectively.
“We’ve gotten better and better from one game to the next, that’s what we want,” said Ducharme.
The 15th seeded Islanders are one thing. The Herd’s second round opponent, Gatineau Olympiques are quite another. The teams split their two regular season matchups. Led by the likes of Simon Tardif-Richard and Martin Reway, who sit behind Drouin in the playoff scoring race, with 12 and 11 points respectively, the eighth-seeded Olympiques should give the Herd a run for its money. The best-of-seven series gets underway at the Metro Centre on Friday evening.
From now on, it’s anybody’s championship to win.
“It’s always a bigger challenge, from one round to the other,” added Ducharme. “The level of play gets higher and higher. That’s something that we’re all aware of.
“There’s not much difference between every team. That’s why it’s important to have good preparation to be at our best.”
Like always, Ducharme is focused squarely on the present challenge: Game 1.
“You can’t think any further than playing the next game. We have experienced players, and, like I said, I like our mindset.”
Injury updates on co-captains Brent Andrews and Darcy Ashley as well as defenceman Austyn Hardie are expected Monday.