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Mooseheads down 2-0 in series against Remparts

Quebec Remparts winger Andrew Coxhead tries to tip the puck past Halifax Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel during Saturday's QMJHL playoff game at the Scotiabank Centre.
Quebec Remparts winger Andrew Coxhead tries to tip the puck past Halifax Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel during Saturday's QMJHL playoff game at the Scotiabank Centre. (Eric Wynne/CHRONICLE HERALD)

The state of affairs is far from ideal for the Halifax Mooseheads.

They're down 2-0 in their first-round playoff series with the Quebec Remparts and the next three games are scheduled to be played in Quebec City. This is not how most predicted the best-of-seven would go between the Memorial Cup hosts and the bottom seed in the QMJHL's Eastern Conference.

"Those games are in the past now," said Halifax forward Keith Getson. "It sucks but there were a couple of tough bounces and I think we're going to come back really strong in Game 3."

The heavily favoured Mooseheads followed up Friday's 3-2 loss with a 5-4 overtime setback on Saturday. The results left the 7,657 Scotiabank Centre fans stunned, while the players did their best to collect themselves and stay positive.

"They're a hard-working team," Getson said. "You can't underestimate anybody. This time of year, everybody works hard and everybody wants to win.

"But honestly, I'm not worried whatsoever. We've got a really talented, good bunch of players in there. It's a great group of guys and we're really close-knit so I'm not worried."

The Remparts also seemed to be in a state of surprise, although for very different reasons. They came to Halifax as the underdogs just hoping for the best but certainly couldn't have imagined it going this well.

"It's good to get off to this kind of start; it's a pretty amazing feeling right now," said Quebec winger Andrew Coxhead. "We've just got to keep on that same level and bring it in the next game.

"When you're the underdog, it is easier in some ways. There aren't many expectations and you can just go out there and play your hardest."

Following the upset in Friday's opener, the task didn't get any easier in Game 2 when the Mooseheads had to deal with the absence of regular season scoring leader Samuel Asselin. He received an automatic one-game suspension for his major penalty in Game 1. BO Groulx, Alexis Sansfacon, Cole Stewart and Marcel Barinka were also out of the lineup.

But on the plus side, winger Maxim Trepanier returned after missing all but one game since Jan. 10 with a concussion. He scored a key goal in the second period.

"Losing Sam - it is what it is and we can't do anything about it," Halifax winger Arnaud Durandeau said. "Trepanier had a good game so it's good to have him back.

"We've got a lot of great players on this team who can step up when it's time to step up. We've been doing that all year. We had to push through that tonight and also with Groulx out."

The Remparts got two goals from Fall River's Coxhead and one each from Sam Dunn, Philipp Kurashev and Jeremy Laframboise. Kurashev scored the winner 11:40 into overtime on a deflected shot on that power play after a controversial interference call on Durandeau. 

"I was just skating and ran into the guy," Durandeau said. "We collided and I guess the ref thought I interfered. It is what it is.

"Any loss hurts, so if it's overtime or regulation time it feels the same. We're going to think about it right now but then by tomorrow we'll be ready to focus on the next game."

Halifax's Raphael Lavoie tied it with less than four minutes left in the third period and Durandeau had the other two Mooseheads goals. 

Carmine-Anthony Pagliarulo turned aside 41 shots for Quebec. Alexis Gravel allowed four goals on 29 shots in 40 minutes for Halifax before being replaced by Cole McLaren to start the third period. McLaren made 22 saves.

"It's always hard coming into the game in the third period like that but Cole stepped up and made all the saves we needed him to make," Durandeau said.

Game 3 is on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday. If necessary, Game 5 will be on March 30, followed by Games 6 and 7 in Halifax on April 1 and 2.

"The objective on our way to play here was just to play some good hockey and I think that's what we've been doing," said Remparts head coach and general manager Patrick Roy. "We know we're playing against a very good team and nothing has changed. The only thing that's changed from before the first game we played here is the results. We're up 2-0 in the series and that's it. 

"We need to continue to play the same way. We're going to be in front of our fans for the next three games and we're going to have to have the same approach for the first game and be very good on our forecheck. Our forecheck's going to be our key against them."

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles trail their series 2-0 against the Charlottetown Islanders after dropping back-to-back games on the road. 

Charlottetown's Lukas Cormier snapped a 4-4 tie with 5:59 left in the third period to give the Islanders a 6-4 win in Game 2 on Saturday. Daniel Hardie added a pair of goals and Zachary Beauregard and Kevin Gursoy had one each.

Mathias Laferriere, Mitchell Balmas, Kyle Havlena and Leon Gawanke scored for Cape Breton and Kevin Mandolese stopped 28 shots. Mattew Welsh made 30 saves for the Islanders.

The series now shifts to Sydney for the next two games.

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