Geordon Omand - Metro Halifax
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
Val-d'Or Foreurs Anthony Mantha celebrates a goal against the Halifax Mooseheads.
Moose Country has seen happier days.
After two disappointing losses on home ice the Halifax Mooseheads now trail the Val-d’Or Foreurs 2-0 after dropping a 4-2 decision on Saturday night in Game 2 of the best-of-seven QMJHL semi-final series.
An opening goal at 36 seconds set the game’s tone early on, shocking a home crowd of 9,408 and putting the visiting squad in the driver’s seat.
“That quick lead they got is not what you want in a hockey game — to get behind the eight ball like that that quick,” said Mooseheads forward Brent Andrews.
“We got ourselves in a hole and we weren’t able to get out of it.”
The normally unflappable Zachary Fucale was uncharacteristically off his game in the Mooseheads net.
Back-up goalie Kevin Darveau took his place after Fucale let in two more back-to-back markers, 22 seconds apart before the eight-minute mark.
Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Duke were able to answer for Halifax, but the Foreurs’ Samuel Henley tallied another goal late in the second frame, for a 4-2 finish.
For its part, Val-d’Or managed to shut down nearly everything the Mooseheads threw at them — including an aggressive late-game push — playing an outstanding defensive game and effectively stifling the Herd’s tried-and-true offensive machine.
“I think we’re a little underrated when it comes to our defence,” said former Mooseheads blueliner Randy Gazzola, whose two points for Val-d’Or — including his first goal of the playoffs — and solid defensive play earned him the game’s first star.
Despite outshooting the Foreurs 33-20, the Mooseheads couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.
The Herd was also noticeably frustrated by the physical game played by the Foreurs.
“We’re a big team, so we’ve got to play to our strengths,” said the six-foot-two, 228-pound Gazzola.
“They’ve got guys like Drouin, (Nikolaj) Ehlers, (Darcy) Ashley — guys who can make wonders with the puck,” he added.
“You have to be strong with those guys, because if you’re not they’re going to take the puck to … the back of the net.”
MacKenzie Weegar notched an assist for each of the Mooseheads’ two goals.
Despite being down 2-0 in the series, the Mooseheads are far from out. Games 3 and 4 are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Val-d’Or.
“I have faith that we’re going to come back,” said Weegar. “We’ve got nothing to lose.”