Val-d’Or Foreurs’ defence stifles Halifax Mooseheads, take 2-0 series lead

Geordon Omand for Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - Moose Country has seen happier days.

Halifax Mooseheads Nikolaj Ehlers, left, puts a shot on Val-d'Or Foreurs goaltender Antione Bibeau.

After two disappointing losses on home ice the Halifax Mooseheads now trail the Val-d’Or Foreurs 2-0 after dropping a 4-2 decision on Saturday night in Game 2 of the best-of-seven QMJHL semi-final series.

An opening goal at 36 seconds set the game’s tone early on, shocking a home crowd of 9,408 and putting the visiting squad in the driver’s seat.

“That quick lead they got is not what you want in a hockey game — to get behind the eight ball like that that quick,” said Mooseheads forward Brent Andrews.

“We got ourselves in a hole and we weren’t able to get out of it.”

The normally unflappable Zachary Fucale was uncharacteristically off his game in the Mooseheads net.

Back-up goalie Kevin Darveau took his place after Fucale let in two more back-to-back markers, 22 seconds apart before the eight-minute mark.

Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Duke were able to answer for Halifax, but the Foreurs’ Samuel Henley tallied another goal late in the second frame, for a 4-2 finish.

For its part, Val-d’Or managed to shut down nearly everything the Mooseheads threw at them — including an aggressive late-game push — playing an outstanding defensive game and effectively stifling the Herd’s tried-and-true offensive machine.

“I think we’re a little underrated when it comes to our defence,” said former Mooseheads blueliner Randy Gazzola, whose two points for Val-d’Or — including his first goal of the playoffs — and solid defensive play earned him the game’s first star.

Despite outshooting the Foreurs 33-20, the Mooseheads couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.

The Herd was also noticeably frustrated by the physical game played by the Foreurs.

“We’re a big team, so we’ve got to play to our strengths,” said the six-foot-two, 228-pound Gazzola.

“They’ve got guys like Drouin, (Nikolaj) Ehlers, (Darcy) Ashley — guys who can make wonders with the puck,” he added.

“You have to be strong with those guys, because if you’re not they’re going to take the puck to … the back of the net.”

MacKenzie Weegar notched an assist for each of the Mooseheads’ two goals.

Despite being down 2-0 in the series, the Mooseheads are far from out. Games 3 and 4 are set for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Val-d’Or.

“I have faith that we’re going to come back,” said Weegar. “We’ve got nothing to lose.”

Organizations: Foreurs

Geographic location: Val

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