Geordon Omand - Metro Halifax
© JEFF HARPER - METRO HALIFAX
The Halifax Mooseheads celebrate their 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5 of their QMJHL semi-final series against Val d'Or.
There can be no mistake that Halifax stands behind Mooseheads goalie Zach Fucale all the way.
An adoring Metro Centre crowd chanted FU-CA-LE and gave standing ovation after standing ovation to their goaltending darling throughout Saturday night’s hard-fought 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Val-d’Or Foreurs.
“I was happy to come back,” said the Mooseheads star netminder, who sat out the previous game after a pair of uncharacteristically poor starts.
“I took some time to practice and get back to my ways and tonight it wasn’t perfect (but) I did what I could out there and I’m glad I contributed a little bit to the team’s success.”
A little bit.
Fucale was on fire between the pipes Saturday — if a sold-out crowd of 10,595 chanting fans is anything to judge by — coming up big with several breakaway saves against a high-powered Val-d’Or offence, including his first of the evening against star sniper Anthony Mantha.
He added another breakaway stop early into overtime to keep the game going.
“One shot wins it, so I sort of have to be (on my game),” Fucale said.
“I felt really good coming into overtime and I think the team made it easy for me. We played very well and we deserved that win.”
The Mooseheads — who outshoot the Foreurs 42-25 — have now won the last three games of the series after falling behind 2-0 and are one win away from second-straight trip to the QMJHL final.
Rookie Maxime Fortier notched the game-winning overtime goal — the first of his QMJHL career — sending the home crowd into a frenzy and earning him the game’s first star.
Standing in front of the Moose net, Fortier tipped home a shot from the point by defenceman Jessie Lussier. and was swarmed by his teammates after the puck went in.
“It was incredible,” said an overwhelmed Fortier, all smiles about his goal.
“I just went in front of the net and did my job.”
The win wasn’t without controversy — the goal went underwent a lengthy review before the referees finally approved it, giving the crowd a second excuse to celebrate.
“The guys are really pissed because they think it was a hand pass behind the net,” Foreurs head coach Mario Durocher said of Fortier’s marker.
“(Fortier) was behind the net … and he put his hand on the ice and just threw it on the side and No. 12 (Danny Moynihan) picked it up and that’s how it got out,.”
Fortier, for his part, wasn’t buying the Foreurs’ take on things.
“I knew I touched the puck with my glove but I kicked it after, so I knew; and it wasn’t a high stick, so I was very confident that it was a good goal,” he said.
A visibly upset Durocher was also calling into question the game’s officiating afterwards.
“That’s what pissed me off a bit, the way they called things,” he said.
“We had one penalty against the Halifax Mooseheads tonight and I don’t think it’s a fair thing.”
Luca Ciampini, Andrew Ryan and Austyn Hardie rounded out the scoring for the Mooseheads on Saturday. Mantha scored twice to lead the way for the Foreurs, who now host Game 6 on Monday at 8:30 p.m.
The game will be carried live on Eastlink TV.
If a Game 7 is needed, it’s back in Halifax on Tuesday.