The President Cup Semi-Finals Series is tied at a game apiece between the Mooseheads and Voltigeurs after an incredible 5-4 Double Overtime victory by Halifax on Saturday night at a raucous Marcel Dionne Centre.
Arnaud Durandeau ended the contest when he roofed a shot over goalie Anthony Marrone from the top of the crease on the Mooseheads’ 55th shot of the night. Durandeau made the play after a nice pass from Max Trepanier and the New York Islanders prospect found himself at the centre of a mob of Mooseheads celebrating along the sideboards with a large supporting group of fans made up mostly of family members of the players.
The Mooseheads fought back from deficits of 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 to earn their first victory of the series and Raphael Lavoie put on quite a show with a second period hat trick and a total of four points by the NHL Draft eligible star. Halifax will play host to Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Wednesday. Both games will start at 7pm.
Lavoie was an absolute force to be reckoned with as he put the team on his back and helped erase a pair of deficits. The Voltigeurs had struck first with a Dawson Mercer goal late in the opening period and Cedric Desruisseaux increased the lead to 2-0 by 3:43 of the second period. That’s when Lavoie came to life. Halifax had played a strong game to that point but didn’t have anything to show for it and the Desruisseaux goal came moments after it appeared that Jake Ryczek was triped behind his own net, leading to a turnover and eventually the Volts’ second goal.
Joe Veleno took a cross checking penalty at 5:37 and with the Herd pouring it on in the offensive zone, P-O Joseph was caught for hooking to give Halifax a much needed two-man advantage. Lavoie struck for the first time when he fired a shot from the inner-edge of the left circle 39 seconds into the Joseph penalty to make it a 2-1 game. There was some confusion as to whether Samuel Asselin had deflected the shot in or not but the official statisticians gave the goal to Lavoie and the Chambly, QC native wasn’t done there. With the Moose still enjoying a power play, he scored again from the left circle to tie the game 2-2 and stunned the hometown crowd in Drummondville.
The second period was a wild one with the teams combining for five goals on 16 total shots. The Voltigeurs climbed back into the lead 3-2, when Maxime Comtois rushed down the left wing as was given too much freedom to get off his best shot on Alex Gravel to deal a blow to any momentum the Mooseheads had built. The latest setback didn’t deter the spirit of the Halifax players as they showed they were up for any task on this night. The Herd continued to push back and who else but Raphael Lavoie would once again find the equalizer. This time he parked himself in front of Marrone and lifted a backhander past the goalie following a shot on net by Justin Barron. The three goals for Lavoie make it a total of 16 during this spring’s President Cup Playoff run which ties a franchise record for most goals by a Mooseheads player in a single playoff season. The previous mark was set by Stefan Fournier in 2013.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth in end-to-end action in the third period and Drummondville got a big one with 8:35 remaining in regulation from Pavel Koltygin. That looked like it might have been the dagger to sink the Mooseheads in Game 2, but the never-say-die squad had another trick up their sleeve. Arnaud Durandeau took off on a rush from his own end with the puck dangling on his stick all the way as he cut through the Voltigeurs defense before tossing it back in front to an open Samuel Asselin who knocked the puck down and buried a close range shot to tie the game 4-4 with only 1:19 left on the clock in the third period. The clutch goal came on a late game power play and forced overtime, which was dominated by the Mooseheads 14-6 on the shot clock, but solved nothing. It took another heroic effort from Durandeau to finish the game in style in the second overtime period and the Halifax supporters in the stands could be heard loudly chanting Go Moose Go as fans made their way to the exits.
The first star of the game was handed to Lavoie for his huge night while Drummondville’s Dawson Mercer took second star for his outing which included a goal and two assists. Felix Lauzon was named the third star. He had a pair of assists along with an overtime goal that was waved off due to being played with a high stick.
Alex Gravel earned the win with 38 saves while Anthony Marrone took the loss with 50 stops. Halifax was 3-4 on the power play while the Volts were scoreless in three opportunities.
Scotiabank Centre is sure to be a popular destination as the series shifts back to Moose Country on Tuesday and Wednesday as fans get a chance to see their team in Semi-Final action for the first time since 2014. Individual tickets are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, select Superstore outlets, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop or by phone 902-451-1221.