The QMJHL President Cup Semi-Finals are ready to begin on Friday night in Drummondville as the Halifax Mooseheads visit the high-scoring Voltigeurs at the nearly sold-out Centre Marcel Dionne.
The Voltigeurs have home ice advantage in the 2-2-1-1-1 series thanks to finishing five points ahead of Halifax in the regular season standings. The series shifts back to Moose Country for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
The Mooseheads booked their spot in the QMJHL’s final four with a second round sweep of the Moncton Wildcats, following their seven-game victory over the Quebec Remparts while the Volts took down Sherbrooke in five games in Round 2 and Gatineau in five games in Round 1.
There are injuries to key players on both teams with Benoit-Olivier Groulx still sidelined indefinitely with mononucleosis for the Mooseheads although he did make the trip and is skating again with the team. It’s not known when he would be capable of a return. Groulx was the second leading scorer for Halifax this season with 80 points and would be a huge addition down the middle if they can eventually get him back in the lineup. Drummondville has been without starting goalie Olivier Rodrigue for the entire President Cup Playoffs. The Edmonton Oilers’ second round draft pick has been out since March 6th with a lower body injury. It’s believed to be in the knee area which is a difficult injury to quickly overcome for a goaltender. He may be back for this series but isn’t expected to be at full health.
The Voltigeurs scored the most goals in the Canadian Hockey League in 2018-19 with 338. The high-octane offense was fueled by Joe Veleno’s team best 42 goals and 104 points while Nicolas Guay joined him as a 40-goal scorer. Gregor MacLeod, Maxime Comtois and Dawson Mercer all cracked the 30-goal plateau. Comtois only played 25 regular season games after starting the year with the Anaheim Ducks and spending time away with Canada’s World Junior squad, yet he managed to score 48 points with the Voltigeurs which is a rate of 1.92 points per game.
The Mooseheads are no slouch on offence either with 10 players scoring double digit goals led by Samuel Asselin’s QMJHL best 48 tallies. The Herd also had four players score more than 70 points each. Raphael Lavoie has been lighting up the opposition during the playoffs with 13 goals and 20 points. The goal total leads the entire CHL.
This matchup features some interesting connections between the two teams. Standing behind the Drummondville bench are Head Coach Steve Hartley and Assistant Coach Ryan Falkenham. Hartley was of course an Assistant to Dom Ducharme with the Mooseheads from 2011-2014 and was a member of the staff for the 2013 Memorial Cup Championship team. Falkenham was on the ice with the Herd for that Memorial Cup title and was later Captain of the team in his final season. The 23-year-old Halifax, NS native suited up for the Mooseheads for all four seasons of his QMJHL career after the team selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 QMJHL Entry Draft. Volts forward Gregor MacLeod was born and raised in Dartmouth and grew up watching the Mooseheads and his father Jeff who as an Assistant Coach with Halifax in the late 2000’s. Defenceman Jarrett Baker is from Black Rock, Cape Breton but played his Midget AAA season with the Halifax Macs in 2015-16. He has become a reliable stay-at-home type of defencemen in his three full seasons with the Voltigeurs.
Not to be left out is the longtime friendship between Maxime Comtois and Mooseheads Captain Antoine Morand. The pair played Bantam together with Lac St-Louis, were Midget teammates with Chateauguay and were drafted back-to-back in 2015 when Morand went second overall to Acadie-Bathurst and Comtois went to Victoriaville with the third pick. That’s the same draft that saw Saint John select exceptional status player Joe Veleno first overall.
Halifax and Drummondville have never met before in the President Cup Playoffs and this series is shaping up to be a long and hard fought battle between two of the QMJHL’s elite. The clubs split the two-game regular season meetings with the road team winning on both occasions.
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.