Geordon Omand - Metro Halifax
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
Val-d'Or Foreurs Anthony Beauregard, left and Halifax Mooseheads Jesse Lussier fight for the puck.
It wasn’t quite the start they were looking for.
The Halifax Mooseheads dropped a 5-2 decision to the visiting Val-d’Or Foreurs in Game 1 of their best-of-seven QMJHL semi-final series on Friday night.
An unusually listless Halifax team just wasn’t on their game, making mistakes their opportunistic opponents were only too happy to capitalize on.
“Sometimes when it’s not going, it’s not going from top to bottom,” said Mooseheads’ defenceman Jesse Lucier about the disappointing series opener.
“We beat ourselves tonight.”
The Herd — who still managed to outshoot Val-d’Or 30-23 — came out strong in the opening minutes, with rookie Nikolaj Ehlers putting the Mooseheads on the scoreboard first.
But before long the Foreurs tallied an equalizer and then took the lead, finishing off the first period ahead 2-1. They added another goal in the second and two more in the third to seal the deal.
“They got that first goal early then we came back with three — that gave us the momentum and we kept going from there,” said Foreurs’ defenceman Ryan Graves, who notched an assist on Val-d’Or’s second goal.
“We got outplayed tonight,” reflected a stone-faced Darcy Ashley, back playing on Friday after being out with an upper body injury since the first playoff round.
“We’re going to need to bring more to the table when we’re playing a team like this.”
With 306 regular season goals, the Foreurs lead the league in scoring, though Halifax’s second-place 292 goals make them a formidable scoring threat as well.
But the Game 1 matchup wasn’t quite the clash of offensive titans it was billed as, with both teams seeming to focus on their d-corps to rout their opponent’s proven firepower.
Val-d’Or goalie Antoine Bibeau had a stellar performance between the pipes, stopping 28 shots, while his teammates controlled the play for most of the game.
A late third-period goal by Philippe Gadoury seemed to re-energize the Herd — along with an uncommonly quiet Metro Centre crowd of 9,728 — but it wasn’t enough to turn it around.
Halifax and Val-d’Or faced each other only twice in the regular season, with the Mooseheads winning both games.
“Tonight we let one slip away that we shouldn’t have,” said Ashley.
“Tomorrow night you’re going to see a totally different hockey team”
Anthony Beauregard, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel, Samuel Henley, Louick Marcotte and Anthony Mantha tallied for Val-d’Or.
Jonathan Drouin finished with an assist for Halifax.
The Mooseheads will have a chance to tie up the series during Game 2, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.