SHERBROOKE | Everything was in place for the Phoenix to continue its momentum and remain undefeated since the start of the playoffs. The 4,005 spectators were already on the edge of their seat from the initial start. But the Mooseheads saw things differently and won 5-2 on Tuesday.
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Halifax didn’t finish second in the QMJHL for nothing. And even if it showed up in Sherbrooke without the league’s top scorer in the regular season, Jordan Dumais, with an upper body injury, Sylvain Favreau’s squad wanted to get back into the fight to avoid already facing the ‘elimination.
After losing the first two games of this semi-final in front of their fans, the Mooseheads rebounded by hitting the target four times without response and the series is now 2 to 1 in favor of the club from Estrie.
The “Moose” coach had mentioned the day before that there was no panic in his clan and he was quite right. His offensive players have also managed to break through the opposing defense.
“Sometimes an overtime loss can be heartbreaking [comme dimanche], but in our case, it gave us confidence. We are able to compete against them,” said Favreau.
“We were too passive at the start, for his part observed Stéphane Julien, behind the Phoenix bench. We had a chance on the power play early in the game, but we were too soft. Afterwards, we ran after the score, but it was a waste of time. »
A confident keeper
The Maritimes team can say a big thank you to its goaltender Mathis Rousseau, who held the fort during the six power plays of the local favorites.
“We had more heart, remarked Rousseau. It was the game we had to win. […] My goal is to leave the big guns of Sherbrooke asleep, because if they gain confidence, it can do damage. »
Apart from Cole Huckins and Ethan Gauthier, who beat him in the second period, Rousseau stood up, making 36 saves.
Alexandre Doucet is another who distinguished himself with an evening of three points. A bit like Phoenix forward Jacob Melanson, who scored a hat trick in the first game in Halifax in front of family and friends, Doucet had fun in his hometown. The veteran allowed the Mooseheads to open the scoring for the first time in this series.
“We stopped watching them and started working,” Doucet said.
Zachary L’Heureux and Markus Vidicek also did well with two points each.
Doucet quickly broke up the party at the Palais des sports Léopold-Drolet. The Sherbrooke resident launched hostilities, short of a man, taking advantage of a turnaround to run towards Olivier Adam and thwart him with a good wrist throw. Doucet then became an accomplice to Vidicek’s net.
Then, L’Heureux took advantage of a numerical advantage to increase the visitors’ lead. The hope of the Nashville Predators had all the time in the world to score and thus throw a cold shower in the crowded amphitheater.
It was a success by Evan Boucher at the start of the second period that chased Adam out of the game. The latter yielded four times on 12 shots.
Rookie Samuel St-Hilaire entered the fray, living his first moments in the playoffs in the QMJHL. He was perfect, fending off all 13 pucks aimed at him.
Josh Lawrence enriched the brand in an empty cage.
“A slap in the face”
On the side of the Phoenix, the players cashed the setback with lucidity.
“We didn’t show up and they took advantage of that,” Huckins admitted. We will learn from our mistakes. We have a lot of confidence and they gave us a slap in the face tonight [hier]. »
“We didn’t expect the series to end 4-0,” said Ethan Gauthier. But it’s hard to escape it when we lead 2 to 0 [dans la série]. We could have put that out of reach, but we’ll give them the credit. They deserved to win. »
► The fourth game of this semi-final will be played Thursday evening, still in Sherbrooke.