If the Halifax Mooseheads didn’t already have plenty of momentum coming off their double overtime victory on Saturday night in Drummondville, then the return of of one of their veteran leaders certainly gave the team a boost heading into Game 3 at Scotiabank Centre.
Forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx was a late addition to the lineup and played in his first game since being diagnosed with mononucleosis prior to the start of the playoffs. The home crowd let out a pre-game roar when it was announced that he would play and Halifax had a hot start en route to a narrow 2-1 victory to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Mooseheads opened the scoring when Jake Ryczek rushed the puck up the ice before passing off to Raphael Lavoie who got a shot on goal and Samuel Asselin was there to jam in a rebound. Asselin’s fifth of the playoffs helped give the Herd the first goal of the game for the first time in the series and the assist upped Lavoie’s QMJHL leading points total to 25.
It was a high energy first period from the Mooseheads who have found a way to up the intensity and offensive pressure against the Voltigeurs in the last two games. They kept coming and Keith Getson scored again at the 11:44 mark of the first period, prompting Drummondville Head Coach Steve Hartley to change goalies. Anthony Marrone got the hook after allowing the two goals on eight shots and Olivier Rodrigue took over. It was the first action the Edmonton Oilers 2018 draft pick had seen since going down with a lower body injury on March 6th. He stopped all 20 shots he faced the rest of the way but the Mooseheads had already done all the damage that was needed.
Halifax continued their strong defensive effort and Alex Gravel put in another massive effort to shutdown the Volts. He stopped 34 of 35 to improve to 10-3 in the postseason and improved his goals against average to 2.49 and his ave percentage to .920. Gravel was named the first star of the game after only allowing a late Maxime Comtois tally during six-on-five action with Rodrigue on the bench and only 2:21 to play in regulation.
The President Cup Semi-Finals Series has gotten noticeably more physical with each game with both teams throwing the body and the slashes, shoves and jabs have increased after the whistle. The Voltigeurs could not solve the Moose during the man advantage yet again. Drummondville was 0-4 in the game and is now 0-10 in the series. Halifax has managed to keep star forward Joe Veleno completely at bay. Veleno had 104 points in the regular season but has failed to produce a single point through three games against the Mooseheads.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday night in Game 4 at Scotiabank Centre where the Mooseheads hope to take a stranglehold on the series. 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.