Martin Lefebvre was the last man standing in the Quebec Remparts’ dressing room at Colisee Pepsi when journalists were finally allowed to enter on Monday night.
Following a 5-2 loss to the Halifax Mooseheads that puts the Remparts on the verge of an epic collapse in the QMJHL quarter-final, many of the veteran defenceman’s teammates slipped out a side door and left the 19-year-old to address a throng of media by himself.
“We’re not panicking,” said Lefebvre, an assistant captain who almost appeared startled to find himself on his own. “We know we need to play better than this and we just need to refocus and play better.”
The Mooseheads hadn’t beaten the Remparts in the Colisee Pepsi all season, and 11,781 fans — clad largely in red — showed up on Monday hoping to ensure that trend continued.
But the Mooseheads scored first just 74 seconds in, received a gigantic six-for-seven effort from their penalty-killers, and were buoyed yet again by their 16-year-old superstar trio of Jonathan Drouin (two goals, two assists), Nathan MacKinnon (goal, two assists) and Zach Fucale (33 saves).
It was the widest margin of victory all series and brings the Mooseheads back from a 3-0 deficit to force Game 7 on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
“We played consistently throughout the game,” said Mooseheads forward Brent Andrews. “We couldn’t ask for much more. Everybody contributed. We’re definitely very happy with that effort.”
Things turned ugly in the third period when Mooseheads defenceman Trey Lewis suffered an apparent knee injury after being hit by Mathieu Lavallee. Forward Brad Cuzner was later lost after taking a high stick in the face from ex-Mooseheads winger Gabriel Desjardins.
Desjardins, the Remparts’ leading scorer in the series, received a match penalty and has been automatically suspended for Game 7.
Cuzner won’t play in Game 7, Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell said late Monday night. Head coach Dominique Ducharme said the 19-year-old was on the bench when Desjardins caught him “under the visor.”
Lewis, meanwhile, left the ice in obvious discomfort and is being called a game-day decision.
Suspensions and injuries aside, the Remparts are suddenly facing elimination for the first time all season, and head coach Patrick Roy said he hopes that brings out the best in his players.
“We need to be as desperate as they are,” Roy said during his post-game media address. “Since Game 3, they’ve become very desperate, and we’re gonna have to match that. They’re winning all their one-and-one battles, and we’re gonna have to be better.”