The Gatineau Olympiques have their hands firmly around the antlers of the Halifax Mooseheads and aren’t letting go.
The Mooseheads, already down 2-0 to the Olympiques in the QMJHL best-of-seven semifinal after last weekend’s back-to-back overtime losses at the Metro Centre, lost 6-1 last night in Gatineau, Que., and are on the brink of elimination.
Playing at Robert Guertin Arena is never any easy chore, and the Mooseheads quickly found that out. Gatineau responded to the loud, passionate crowd of 3,632 to grab a 2-0 lead in the first period and a 4-1 edge after the second.
“Gatineau was fully prepared to play tonight and we couldn’t match the intensity they threw at us,” said Mooseheads head coach Cam Russell. “Their best players played well and ours didn’t. We had our third and fourth lines going tonight. That’s it.”
Mooseheads star forwards Jakub Voracek and Brad Marchand were notably absent from the scoresheet, as were 30-goal scorers Ryan Hillier and Peter-James Corsi. Colby Pridham was the only Mooseheads player to beat Ryan Mior.
Olympiques stars Paul Byron (two goals, one assist) and Claude Giroux (three assists) continued to light up the Herd. Alexandre Quesnel scored twice, including the backbreaking 4-1 goal with four seconds left in the second period.
The Mooseheads all but packed it in once the third period rolled around, mustering up a feeble three shots.
Only three teams in the QMJHL’s 38-year history have overcome 3-0 series deficits — Cape Breton (2001), Longueuil (1987) and Drummondville (1985).
The Mooseheads, who entered the season as the consensus favourite to emerge as league champions, put their season of high expectations on the line tonight in Game 4.
“We are happy to be in this position, we control our own destiny,” admitted Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx. “Our plan is to get rested and make sure we are prepared to get a good start like we did tonight.”
>> The Mooseheads pulled Mark Yetman after he allowed six goals on 29 shots, but he was sharp during a heavy first-period barrage.
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