A variety of world-class talent will take to the ice on Friday night at the Marcel Dionne Centre when the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Halifax Mooseheads open their best-of-seven President Cup Semi-Final series.
The Voltigeurs enter the third round for the first time in almost a decade after compiling an impressive 8-2 record to this point in the postseason. After eliminating the Gatineau Olympiques in five games during round one, they handed the Sherbrooke Phoenix the exact same result in the Quarter-Finals with the clinching game requiring double overtime and a staggering 72 shots on net from the winning side. The last time Drummondville advanced this far in postseason play was in 2010, when it fell in five games to the Moncton Wildcats. The Volts will be aiming to reach the league final for the first time since 2009, when they won their first “Q” title in seven games over the Shawinigan Cataractes.
For the Mooseheads, it was a night and day difference between rounds one and two of the postseason. After rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to eliminate the Quebec Remparts in seven games, the squad went on to run its winning streak to six games following a four-game sweep of the Moncton Wildcats in the President Cup Quarter-Finals. Despite requiring the minimum number of games to complete, each game between the Maritimes Division rivals was decided by two goals or less. The Mooseheads team last reached the league Semi-Final in 2014, when it fell to that year’s eventual President Cup Champions, the Val-d’Or Foreurs, in seven games. The franchises’ last appearance in the final took place in 2013, when it made the march to both President Cup and Memorial Cup titles.
The Voltigeurs continued to get the job done offensively into the Quarter-Finals, as has been the case all season long, averaging nearly five goals per game through two rounds. Driving the bus in that regard were a trio of forwards in center Joseph Veleno (12 pts) and wingers Maxime Comtois (11 pts) and Dawson Mercer (10 pts). Every single player to draw into at least two games for the club has registered at least one point so far this postseason. This includes goaltender Anthony Morrone who, in addition to an assist, ranks third in the league through two rounds with a GAA of 2.12 while also recording one shutout as the fate of starter Olivier Rodrigue remains in doubt due to injury.
The Mooseheads continue to be led offensively by winger Raphaël Lavoie, who enters the Semis in second place in the playoff scoring derby with 20 points, including a league leading 13 goals. Following Lavoie in team scoring are centers Antoine Morand (12 pts) and Samuel Asselin (10 pts). Maxime Trépanier, injured for most of the second half of the regular season after being acquired from the Gatineau Olympiques, has also chipped in with 10 points, while Justin Barron sits fourth in postseason points among defensemen with eight. Alexis Gravel enters the Semis with a GAA of 2.54 while his .915% save percentage ranks fifth among all goalies in playoff competition.
These two clubs faced off twice during the regular season. On October 21st in Drummondville, the Mooseheads roared ahead 3-0 before the Voltigeurs poured in three third period goals to force overtime. It would be the aforementioned Barron who would deliver the game-winner in the 4-3 Halifax victory just under three minutes into the extra session. Drummondville would exact their revenge in Halifax on November 25th. Veleno recorded three points while Félix Lauzon scored twice as the Voltigeurs rode a 5-1 first period lead to a 6-3 win.
This marks the first time the two clubs have ever faced off in postseason play. That being said, plenty of familiarity, not to mention similarities, exist between the Volts and Moose. One such connection revolves around ties to the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. While Veleno, Comtois and Halifax defenseman Jared McIsaac all suited up for Team Canada at the most recent edition of the tournament in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, Drummondville rearguard Michael Ivan also took to the ice as a member of Team Slovakia at the event.
Additionally, ties to NHL clubs abound between the two rosters as each organization features prospects from the Anaheim Ducks (the Voltigeurs Comtois, the Mooseheads Morand and B-O Groulx), Chicago Blackhawks (Nicholas Beaudin for Drummondville, Gravel and Jake Ryczek for Halifax), Detroit Red Wings (Veleno and McIsaac) and Edmonton Oilers (Rodrigue and Mooseheads forward Ostap Safin). Veleno (2015) and Groulx (2016) share a commonality in having both been selected first overall in the QMJHL Draft. The Voltigeurs bench has two distinct ties to the Mooseheads as Head Coach Steve Hartley served that club as an assistant coach from 2011 to 2014. One of his assistants in Drummondville? Former Halifax captain Ryan Falkenham, who was coached by Hartley during three of his four seasons wearing a Mooseheads sweater.
How the two teams match up (reg. season):
||49-15-2-2 — 102 points
||52-13-2-1 — 107 points
|Leading Rookie (PTS)
|Leading Scorers (PTS)