It was Gatineau’s turn to make the most of playing at home.
Halifax Mooseheads netminder Zach Fucale watches as the puck gets past him and heads into the net during second period action against the Gatineau Olympiques in Game 3 of the best-of-seven QMJHL quarter-final series Tuesday night at the Robert Guertin Arena.
The Halifax Mooseheads dropped a 5-2 loss in a high-energy Game 3 matchup against the Olympiques Tuesday night to see their lead in the best-of-seven QMJHL quarterfinal cut to 2-1.
Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme gave a straightforward reason for the loss.
“They played better than us,” he said. “They played with more energy. They were more desperate.”
A raucous 3,326 fans took in the game at the Robert-Guertin Arena, making for a noisy experience for the visitiors.
“We know that this is a hard building to play in (and) we didn’t have the game we wanted,” said goalie Zachary Fucale.
“To win a championship you need to play on the road, you need to win on the road.”
Fuelled by the rambunctious home crowd, the Olympiques cruised to a decisive victory, putting an end to the Moose’s 19-game winning streak, which included six-straight in the playoffs.
The opening goal from Jonathan Drouin early in the first period seemed to herald a repeat of the previous two games, which Halifax won on home ice by a combined score of 10-3.
But it was not to be.
The Olympiques responded less than a minute later with a goal from Halifax native Taylor Burke. A followup from teammate Alexi Pepin sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The Moose went into the third period down 3-2. Two more markers by the Olympiques — one on the power play and another into an empty net — rounded out the scoring.
“The puck was rolling not our way tonight,” said Drouin, who put in both goals for the Mooseheads and now has a QMJHL-best 21 points in the playoffs.
“It’s not the end of the world but we’ve got to be ready (for tomorrow).”
Drouin earned third star of the game, his impressive stickhandling drawing awe from the Gatineau crowd.
Vincent Dunn was a barb in the Mooseheads’ side, earning him first star of the game.
“He was a constant menace,” said coach Benoit Groulx.
As for what made the difference between Tuesday’s matchup and Games 1 and 2 in Halifax:
“Our players blocked more shots; we controlled the ice better,” said Groulx.
“We knew we had to be better — and we were.”
The series continues Wednesday in Gatineau at 8:30 p.m. Game 5 is also in Gatineau on Friday night.