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Rimouski in a Rout
-By Willy Palov - The Chronicle Herald
The Oceanic thumped the Mooseheads 9-0 in front of 4,878 rowdy fans at the Rimouski Colisee on Friday to put them on the verge of an appearance in the championship series. Rimouski leads the third-round best-ofseven 3- 2. “The way we look at it is whether they beat us 2-1 or 9-0 it’s still only one game that they won," said Mooseheads forward Travis Randell. “It’s not like just because they won by a big score it counts as two games for them.
They’ve got to win four in order to win the series and we’re going back home for two games. That’s our goal."
The Oceanic were clearly ready to go for Game 5, jumping all over the Mooseheads in the opening period. They scored on three of their first 10 shots to take a commanding lead by the 13:43 mark of the first period.
The quick start put the Mooseheads on their heels and they just couldn’t recover.
“They came out hard," Randell said. “I’m sure they weren’t too happy losing two at home and they didn’t want to lose three at home. They played well tonight and that definitely wasn’t our best effort. That didn’t help at all."
Rimouski’s leading goal scorer Peter Trainor took a drop pass from Alex Belzile just inside the Halifax blue-line and snapped a low shot to Halifax goalie Zachary Fucale’s glove side 1:50 into the game to set the tone for the evening.
Jean-Francois Plante made it 2-0 when he scored exactly five minutes later. He took Petr Straka’s pass in the slot and slammed a slapshot into the corner.
Straka then set up Scott Oke for another first-period goal when he threw the puck to the front of the net from the corner and Oke redirected it past Fucale. The Oceanic suffered a considerable loss midway through the first period when Halifax centre Nathan MacKinnon’s skate clipped forward Jakub Culek’s cheek. He was in noticeable distress as he was helped off the ice and did not return.
The Mooseheads also suffered a major loss in the opening period when captain Cameron Critchlow was handed a game misconduct for trying to remove Rimouski forward Jonathan Lavoie’s helmet during a fight.
“It’s tough, he’s our leader," Randell said. “He’s done a lot of great things for us this season and in the playoffs he’s been a go-to guy, whether it’s blocking a shot, making a play or scoring big goals at crucial times. He’s been like that all year long."
The Oceanic kept the pressure on in the second period and extended their lead to 4-0 at 11:04. Rimouski captain Jean-Philippe Mathieu had a wideopen chance at the side of the net on the power play and made no mistake. Mathieu then set up Francis Beauvilier for a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one 2:13 later and Straka put thegame well out of reach with another goal just 69 seconds after that.
Straka’s goal ended the night for Fucale, who surrendered six goals on 23 shots and was replaced by Marc-Olivier Daigle.
“He’s been one of our MVPs all year," Halifax defenceman Trey Lewis said. “He’s only 16 and you hate to see that happen to him.
But I’m sure he’s going to refocus. He’s strong-minded and he’ll be ready for (the next game on) Sunday."
The goalie change didn’t help much because Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored on the next shot to make it 7-0. He roofed a shot over Daigle’s right shoulder on the power play to give the Oceanic four goals during a 5:03 stretch in the second period.
Alex Mallet and Jonathan Lavoie rounded out the scoring with late goals in the third period. Jacob Gervais-Chouinard stopped 30 shots to earn the shutout for Rimouski and Daigle finished with 13 saves.
The Oceanic can clinch their spot in the league final with a win in Game 6 at the Metro Centre on Sunday afternoon. The Mooseheads vow to do whatever it takes to keep that from happening.
“We’re just focusing for Sunday and that’s all we’ve got to think about now," said Lewis.
“We’ll have our crowd behind us and that will feel good. I think we’re just focusing on bouncing back right now."
If Game 7 is needed, it will be played Monday night in Halifax.
Notes : Forward Brad Cuzner returned to the Halifax lineup after missing five games with a head injury. ... EastLink will televise Game 6 on Sunday. ... The Saint John Sea Dogs lead the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 3-1 in the other semifinal. ... MacKinnon remains one point shy of matching F.P. Guenette’s 2003 franchise record of 27 points in a single playoff year. ... MacKinnon’s 13 playoff goals are a franchise single-season record but Critchlow is only one behind with 12. ... MacKinnon’s 26 points put him two behind Saint John’s Charlie Coyle for the league scoring lead. Linemate Jonathan Drouin has 24 points.
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