As exciting as the first round was, the second round of the QMJHL playoffs were much more brief. Two of the four series were sweeps, while the other two saw the eliminated team only win a single game. It will be interesting to see if the semifinals will be short like round two, or if fans will see two very competitive and longer series with a trip to the President’s Cup Finals on the line. With the ‘Q’s format, the final four are re-seeded, with now having the semis consist of inter-conference matchups.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs. Rimouski Oceanic
This is the closest the Oceanic have come to the Finals since they won the President’s Cup back in 2015. They have made it this far in short order. After an easy sweep of Chicoutimi, Rimouski took care of Cape Breton in five games. They are the only team in the semis to only have one loss to their name this postseason. Of course, Alexis Lafreniere was on top of his game, as per usual. After eight points in round one, the future first round pick scored 10 points in the second round, maintaining his two-point-per-game average. Olivier Garneau played exceptional, as the over-aged winger scored eight points against the Screaming Eagles. Despite giving up eight goals in round two, Colton Ellis looked good in net. The Nova Scotian had a .936 SV%, including a shutout in game three.
The Huskies got their act together after the slip up against Shawinigan. Rouyn-Noranda burned through Victoriaville in four games, and look to make it to the finals for the third time in franchise history. The Tigres only scored three goals in the series. Much thanks to the play of the Huskies’ back end with players such as Noah Dobson and Justin Bergeron and Samuel Harvey in net. Peter Abbandonato scored eight more points in round two, increasing his playoff scoring lead with 21 points. Joel Teasdale was steady throughout the series, including a big game in game four where the Montreal prospect scored a hat trick.
This matchup could have very different outcomes. It could go the distance, or one team could make quick work of their opponent. The Huskies won all four meetings between the two, outscoring the Oceanic by a score of 20-7. The Oceanic have not had the toughest of opponents in their first two series, and have not had to play against a tough defence and top-notch goaltender such as Harvey. This means Ellis will have to stand on his head to give Rimouski a chance in this series.
Each game will be tight, but that does not mean there will be a lot of them. Huskies in five.
Drummondville Voltigeurs vs. Halifax Mooseheads
The Voltigeurs come in to their first semifinal since 2010 looking to make it to the President’s Cup Final for the first time since they won back in 2009. After an easy series against Gatineau, Drummondville eased their way passed Sherbrooke in five games. The first two games saw the Voltigeurs outscore the Phoenix 16-5. After Sherbrooke earned a win on home ice, Drummondville won game four, and ended the series in exciting fashion, as Maxime Comtois’ fourth goal of the series in the second overtime eliminated the Phoenix. Felix Lauzon was big contributor in the series. The Roxton Pond, PQ native scored five goals and two assists against the Phoenix. Pavel Koltygin also had a breakout series, as the Nashville prospect garnered eight points in the five game series, leading the Voltigeurs in round two.
After a tight series against Quebec in round one, the Mooseheads took their second round matchup against Moncton much more seriously. That does not mean the Wildcats gave everything they had against the best team in the East. Three of the four games were determined by two goals because of empty net goals by Halifax. However, the Mooseheads were able to get the job done swiftly to move onto the semis for the first time since 2014. Raphael Lavoie continued his impressive postseason, scoring six goals in the series. Antoine Morand stepped up his game in round two. The Anaheim draft pick only scored four points against Quebec in the first round, but really helped out the offence with seven assists in the four-game sweep.
Two very talented offences heading into this series. Drummondville was able to show against Sherbrooke they have more offence than just Joseph Veleno, who only scored three points in Drummondville’s five game series. Where it seemed Halifax needed to rely on Lavoie in round one, the resurgence of Morand gives optimism for the Mooseheads offence. While Jared McIsaac was solid in his own zone, he will have to help out offencively if Halifax wants to hang with the high-flying Drummondville attack. The teams only played twice this season, with each team picking up the win on the road.
While Drummondville is playing for a chance to make it to make it to the Memorial Cup, Halifax as the host is not. That will be a factor in this series, and the Voltigeurs will come away with the series in six games.
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