Mooseheads GM gives defence their due as Halifax prepares for Foreurs

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Philip Croucher - Metro Halifax

Cam Russell expects fans will have a good time watching this series.

The two highest-scoring teams are going head-to-head in the third round of the QMJHL playoffs as the Halifax Mooseheads and Val-d’Or Foreurs meet for the first time ever in post-season play.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting series for fans to watch,” the Mooseheads general manager said on Monday. “They have some very good hockey players and a very good goaltender.”

But as much as Russell thinks his team matches up well offensively against a Foreurs squad that netted a league-best 306 goals during the regular season, he is also quick to point out his club’s strength on the defensive end as well.

The Mooseheads finished No. 2 in goals scored during the regular season (292), and also allowed the third fewest (182.)

Halifax has allowed only 19 goals in nine playoff games, and has surrendered more than 30 shots in a game only once.

“We support the attack well,” Russell said. “We are an offensive team but also committed to the defensive zone.”

And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the likes of Zach Fucale in goal should trouble arise.

Fucale has again been a steady hand for the Mooseheads, posting a 8-1 playoff record with a sparking 1.73 goals-against-average and a .927 save-percentage.

“That’s how he’s played for three years now,” Russell said of Fucale’s post-season. “Every game is important to him. He’s very even keeled – never too high or too low.

“He’s a key player and important leader on our hockey team.”

So far, it’s been a smooth ride for Halifax in the playoffs. They swept the Charlottetown Islanders in four-straight, and needed just one more game to knock off the Gatineau Olympiques.

Most expect a stiffer test against the Foreurs, but Russell believes his team is ready to put in the effort needed for success.

“You have to understand how hard these players work every day,” he said. “It’s nothing more than hard work than got us to this point.”

Full schedule announced for Moose-Foreurs series

The schedule for the third-round series swas announced on Monday, with Halifax hosting Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

The series switches to Val-d’Or for Games 3 and 4 next Tuesday and Wednesday.

A Game 5 would be played back in Halifax on April 26. Val-d’Or would host Game 6 on April 28, with Game 7 set for April 29 in Halifax.

Tickets for Round 3 go on sale to the general public Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Organizations: QMJHL

Geographic location: Halifax, Val

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