Darcy Ashley walked out of the Halifax Mooseheads’ dressing room looking like he’d been through a war.
The Herd’s co-captain was in the thick of it, coming out on the losing end of a grueling 4-3 shootout loss at the hands of the Quebec Remparts before 8,272 fans at the Metro Centre on Friday night.
In the end, the Mooseheads lost their leading scorer Jonathan Drouin and one of their top defencemen Matt Murphy.
“They were playing a really chippy game,” said Ashley. “They came out with a lot of intensity. We weathered the storm for the first 10 minutes. We settled down and played our game. But, they’re a fast, good hockey team. They are better than what their record shows.”
Ashley, who picked up three assists in the contest, didn’t end up unscathed either, taking a crosscheck to the throat from Remparts forward Nick Sorenson, who received a match penalty for his actions.
But the big story was the play that ended Drouin’s night, a fierce check from behind, compliments of Adam Erne that crumpled the Herd’s star forward and left him with concussion-like symptoms.
“They were both cheap shots,” said Ashley referring to his and Drouin’s ordeal.
But, Erne didn’t see it that way.
“He wasn’t far from the boards and I pushed him pretty hard,” said Erne, who also received a game misconduct for the hit. “I thought it was a dive and I thought everybody else did, too. I wouldn’t have even gotten a penalty if he didn’t dive into the boards.”
He also said that Drouin could have absorbed the hit standing up, and avoided injury.
“If he dives and goes head first he’s going to hurt himself,” added Erne, who also knocked Murphy out of the game with a shoulder on shoulder check before stealing the puck and scoring the game’s first goal.
On Saturday, Mooseheads general manager said Drouin has a mild concussion and will not be with the team for its game Sunday in Charlottetown against the Islanders.
On Friday night, the Remparts showed up ready to do battle. After being outshot 18-4 in a scoreless final frame (and 41-25 overall), Quebec secured the victory in the second round of the shootout, compliments of Olivier Archambault.
The Mooseheads didn’t help themselves either, capitalizing on two of eight power play opportunities, while giving up a costly short-handed goal that gave the Remparts a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
“It was a long grueling game with a lot of rough stuff and penalties,” said co-captain Brent Andrews. “It’s disappointing to go all that way and lose in a shootout.
“We have to be sharper. We have to be hungrier and take advantage of the opportunities we’re given.”
MacKenzie Weegar tallied twice while Nikolaj Ehlers rounded out the scoring for the Mooseheads. Fabrice Herzog and Anthony Duclair responded for the Remparts.
The Mooseheads (22-10-0-1) earned a point in the loss and move into sole possession of second place in league standings, one point ahead of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and two points back of first-place Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.