Geordon Omand - Metro Halifax
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
Halifax Mooseheads forward Darcy Ashley.
The Halifax Mooseheads’ semi-final series opener Friday night at the Metro Centre against the Val-d’Or Foreurs marks the welcome return of one of the Herd’s offensive heavyweights.
Darcy Ashley had been sidelined with an upper body injury since Game 3 of the first playoff round against the Charlottetown Islanders.
“Nobody wants to sit out and not be able to help the team win,” said Ashley after practice in Halifax on Wednesday.
“You always want to be back in the lineup.”
The five-foot-eight, hundred-seventy-nine-pound winger was off the ice for the entirety of the five-game, quarter-final series against the Olympiques, which the Mooseheads finished off 4-1 last Friday in Gatineau.
“It’s been tough but the boys have been doing well,” said Ashley.
“It’s a lot harder sitting out when things aren’t going well.”
With the Moose about to face the highest-scoring team in the league — Val-d’Or leads the Q with 306 goals — Mooseheads coach Dominique Ducharme said he is plenty happy to have his high-scoring forward back in action.
“He’s a veteran; he’s been there for a while; he’s one of our captains; he’s a leader for us,” said Ducharme.
“It’s just great to have him back.”
Coming out of the regular season, Ashley’s 80 points — 30 goals and 50 assists — placed him tenth overall in the league, and third for the Mooseheads, after teammates Jonathan Drouin and Nikolaj Ehlers.
And with nearly four seasons with the Mooseheads, this is the 21-year-old veteran’s final year in the league.
“It’s getting closer and closer all the time,” reflected Ashley, originally from Alberton, P.E.I.
“But my job is to make sure that we’re playing as long as we can. … If we can go out a winner there’s no better way to finish.”
Halifax Mooseheads look to fight fire with fire against offensive powerhouse Val-d’Or Foreurs
After a valuable week of rest and recuperation coming off their second-round 4-1 playoff victory against the Gatineau Olympiques, the Halifax Mooseheads are ready to hit the ice running against what stands to be their toughest playoff challenge yet.
The Mooseheads kick off Game 1 of the best-of-seven QMJHL semi-final series at home on Friday against the third-seeded Val-d’Or Foreurs in what promises to be a high-octane offensive matchup.
The Foreurs lead the league in scoring, with 306 goals coming out of the regular season.
“The intensity is going to be extremely high,” said Mooseheads goalie Zachary Fucale after practice in Halifax on Wednesday.
“The competitive levels are going to be through the roof.”
But the Mooseheads — ranked second in the Q with 292 goals — are hardly laggards when it comes to putting pucks into nets.
“We’re also a high-scoring team,” said Fucale, adding that he is primed and ready for the challenge.
The Mooseheads’ net minder topped the league this year in the regular season with a 2.26 goals against average.
But the Foreurs forward Anthony Mantha — with a league-leading 120 regular-season points — should keep the Mooseheads d-unit on their toes.
Fucale and Mantha are former teammates, having played together for Team Canada at the 2014 World Juniors in Sweden. But that connection is unlikely to have much of an impact on Friday.
“It’s going to be no different than any other game … no matter who’s playing on the other side,” said Fucale.
“We just want to win the series and that’s all that’s important for our team.”
The puck drops for Game 1 on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Halifax Metro Centre.