HALIFAX - With their playoff run now over following a tough Game 7 loss Tuesday night to the Val-d‚ÄôOr Foreurs, the braintrust with the Halifax Mooseheads are already looking to next season ‚ÄĒ and some hard choices that need to be made.
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
Val-d'Or Foreurs Maxime Presseault tries to get the puck past Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Zach Fucale.
The team‚Äôs three overagers ‚ÄĒ Darcy Ashley, Brandon Duke and Brent Andrews ‚ÄĒ are moving on, and the Mooseheads will need to decide which three of their handful of 19-year-olds they‚Äôll keep around.
Then there‚Äôs in goal, which according to the team‚Äôs general manager, is a no-brainer with Zach Fucale expected to be back for his fourth year of junior.
‚Äú(Zach Fucale) is our goaltender ‚ÄĒ he‚Äôll be our starter next year, for sure,‚ÄĚ Cam Russell said when asked about the possibility of an off-season trade involving the Montreal Canadiens draft pick.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs done an above-exceptional job for us these past three years ‚ÄĒ you‚Äôre solidifying your net with an all-star (goalie).‚ÄĚ
Tuesday night‚Äôs 3-2 loss capped off a high-energy, back-and-forth series against Val-d‚ÄôOr, marking the third consecutive season Halifax has made it to at least the QMJHL semifinals.
Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme said Wednesday he liked the way his team played in that do-or-die Game 7.
‚ÄúWe would play it again ‚Ä¶ the same way, and I‚Äôm confident we would be coming out with the win, but that didn‚Äôt happen (this time),‚ÄĚ he said.
Halifax‚Äôs list of potential overagers for next season include defenceman MacKenzie Weegar, who could also be assigned to the Florida Panthers AHL affiliate, Austyn Hardie and Jesse Lussier, forwards Luca Ciampini, Philippe Gadoury and Andrew Ryan, and goaltender Kevin Darveau.
Tuesday likely marked the final QMJHL game for star forward Jonathan Drouin as well. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect ‚ÄĒ who leads the QMJHL with 41 playoff points ‚ÄĒ will in all likelihood move on to the NHL next year.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre very proud of our players and our coaching staff ‚Ä¶ but now it‚Äôs time to move forward and get ready for next season,‚ÄĚ Russell said.