The Halifax Mooseheads have an uphill battle ahead of them.
After dropping the first two games of the third-round QMJHL semi-final series on home ice this weekend to the visiting Foreurs, the Herd will need a dramatic turnaround as they head to Val-d’Or for Games 3 and 4 later this week.
“We haven’t played our best and we know that,” said veteran Mooseheads forward Brent Andrews.
“But now we’re going up to their rink and it’s going to be desperate. We know what we have to do; we just have to execute better.”
Some big changes are in order if Halifax hopes to stay in the round-three best-of-seven series.
A 5-2 loss on Friday gave way to a 4-2 Game 2 defeat the following night, with the Foreurs tallying three markers in the first four shots on Saturday through an unusually porous Halifax D-corps. They scored the first at 36 seconds and were up 3-0 by the 7:10 mark of the first frame.
Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Duke were able to ignite the home crowd by cutting Val-d’Or’s lead to 3-2, but Samuel Henley answered in the second period for the Foreurs to seal the deal.
Despite Val-d’Or’s league-topping offensive record, strong defence made all the difference for the visitors’ victories as they repeatedly shut down Halifax’s attacks.
Outstanding goaltending by Val-d’Or netminder Antoine Bibeau, coupled with aggressive defensive play stymied the Mooseheads’ usually high-scoring powerhouse forwards.
By the end of both games, the Mooseheads — who outshot their opponents 30-23 and 22-20 in both games — were visibly frustrated.
“We have to bounce back on Tuesday,” said a sombre Mooseheads forward Nikolaj Ehlers after Saturday’s loss.
“They’re big guys; they’re good players,” he added about the Val-d’Or squad. “But we’ve just got to keep going and do more and work harder.
The Herd hasn’t been behind in a playoff series since their third-round matchup against Rimouski Océanic in 2012.
The Foreurs will be looking to finish the series in Val-d’Or this week.
“It’s a big confidence boost when you come in here and get two wins,” said Foreurs bluenliner Randy Gazzola after Saturday’s Game 2 against his former team.
“(But) I know the Halifax Mooseheads and you never count them out. They’re going to come back harder.”
Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Val-d’Or, Que. Both will be televised by Eastlink TV.