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Gatineau Spoils Party
-By Willy Palov - Sports Reporter The Chronicle Herald
The Gatineau Olympiques spoiled the party at the Metro Centre on Friday night.
The Olympiques handed the Halifax Mooseheads a 6-1 loss, deflating a crowd of 9,223 that showed up buzzing with anticipation for the home opener of what is supposed to be a championship season.
“It’s very disappointing that it turned out like that,” said Mooseheads defenceman Brendan Duke. “It’s just a lack of focus. We’ve got to come out ready to play the whole 60 minutes.
“Our start was all right but we missed a couple chances and then after that things just weren’t going our way. We let our emotions get the best of us. We kind of let down and quit and that’s not what we want to see.”
After the teams played through a scoreless first period, Gatineau’s Tomas Hyka and Halifax’s Nathan MacKinnon traded goals early in the second period. The Olympiques then exploded for four goals during a six-minute span to take a 5-1 lead into the second intermission.
“I don’t think the game was out of our reach until we gave up on it,” said Halifax co-captain Stefan Fournier. “I think once they added a goal, two goals and then it was three goals, some of the guys on the bench started to give up a little bit. It’s better off that we learn early that games like that, you’ve got to stick them through until the end.”
Hyka finished the night with two goals and fellow European Martin Reway had a pair of goals and an assist. Dominic Poulin also scored twice for the Olympiques, who went 2-for-7 on the power play.
“It’s frustrating when you’re trying everything, you’re trying to work hard to get back and then another goal goes in or we have another penalty kill coming up,” Duke said. “It’s tough to try to get ahead when things are going like that. We’ve just got to stay focused and have the right mindset.”
Gatineau goalie Michael Nishi stopped 29 shots for the win. Mooseheads starter Zachary Fucale was chased from the game at 13:20 of the second period after allowing four goals on 13 shots. Chris Clarke made his first appearance of the season and turned aside 15 of 17 shots.
“We all have confidence in Zach,” Fournier said. “We know that tomorrow or whenever it is, he’ll bounce back. He’s a hard-working kid. Nights like that happen. They happen for goalies and they happen for players when things don’t connect. I think what it boils down to is we have such a skilled team that we need to work hard every night. If we work harder than the other team, I don’t think there’s a way to beat us. But it’s early in the season and there will be some maturing to do as the season goes on.”
The game also got nasty late in the second period. Fournier instigated a fight with Gatineau's Mickael Beauregard and MacKinnon and Olympiques defenceman Adam Chapman squared off a few seconds later on the other side of the ice. MacKinnon and Chapman both received game misconduct penalties for engaging in the second fight during the same stoppage and Halifax defenceman MacKenzie Weegar was also ejected.
“My part of the game is to fight or something like that to wake the boys up,” Fournier. “Obviously there was frustration that led to it. What happened to Nate I think was a little bit unfair and that’s why when I was done I got up and I tried going over there to get involved with that guy. But it happens. When a guy like Nate is on the ice people are going to be trying to jump on him and get him out of his game.”
The loss was the Mooseheads’ first of the season. They opened with two wins on the road. They host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles tonight.
“That’s the good thing about losing when you have another game right after,” Duke said. “We’ve got to rebound and come back strong tomorrow night.”
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