The Halifax Mooseheads are putting on a brave face with their season on the line in Gatineau, Que.
The outlook couldn’t be any more grim, as the Herd trails the Gatineau Olympiques 2-0 in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League best-of-seven semifinal, with the next three games on the road in unfriendly Robert Guertin Arena.
The picture gets uglier when you consider that Gatineau’s home record — 33-5-2-1 — is the best in the league.
“We are a confident hockey team heading into Gatineau,” Mooseheads head coach Cam Russell said calmly. “It’s a great building to play in, and even though they’re up two games on us right now, we’re wearing them down.”
The Mooseheads are right there with the Olympiques, as they dropped the first two games at home in overtime. They played particularly well in Game 2, when Olympiques goalie Ryan Mior turned aside 50 high-quality shots.
They’ll get a boost with sniper Ryan Hillier (knee) returning to the lineup for Game 3 tonight at 8:30 p.m., and they’ll need it, having scored only four goals through two games.
Russell isn’t planning any major changes in Gatineau.
“A few of our systems, we’ve tweaked a bit, but the last game went really well,” the second-year bench boss said. “We out-chanced them, out-shot them, so there really aren’t a lot of things we want to change as far as systems go.”
Halifax had the best road record in the regular season and beat the Olympiques 4-1 in Gatineau on Jan. 23.
“We’ve been good on the road all year so going on the road to Gatineau is not a very big deal for us,” Mooseheads forward Peter-James Corsi said. “We don’t even think about it.”
The Mooseheads are hoping to tighten up defensively on stars Claude Giroux and Paul Byron, who have combined for five of Gatineau’s six goals, and limit turnovers.
“Especially against that top line,” Russell said. “If you’re going to turn pucks over, they have the skill to take advantage.”