'Piques stave off collapse

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

THE GATINEAU Olympiques prevented one of the biggest collapses on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River since the disappearance of the Promenade du Portage strip.

But just barely.

In front of a rambunctious crowd last night at the Guertin Centre, the 'Piques clinched a QMJHL West Division quarter-final in the seventh game, downing the Drummondville Voltigeurs 3-2.

Gatineau now moves on to the division semi-final against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

The 'Piques won the first three games of the series, but the Volts stormed back with a trio of victories of their own, forcing last night's decisive match.

The crowd of 3,811, most of them Olympiques fans save for a few brave Voltigeurs supporters in Section 11, roared with delight in the final minute and counted down the final seconds to salute their heroes.

"The crowd was extraordinary," said Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx.

Orleans native Claude Giroux scored what turned into the winning goal in the second period, getting his first marker of the series.

The 18-year-old winger, the leading rookie scorer in the QMJHL this season, capped a 3-on-2 break for the 'Piques by snapping a shot through the pads of Volts goalie Loic Lacasse. The puck barely got through and trickled over the line to give Gatineau a 3-1 lead.

"It was such an exciting game and I wanted to win so bad," said Giroux. "Everybody worked so hard. Everybody wanted to win that. We played like we did all year, and it turned out well."

But Drummondville nearly got even, just as it did after the first three games of the series. Francis Charette scored for the Volts with five minutes left in the second, and Drummondville blitzed the Gatineau end during the final 20 minutes.

Charette had the best chance with six minutes remaining. He shot quickly from the left side and the puck squeezed through Gatineau goalie David Tremblay's pads. The puck lay just inches from the goal line near Tremblay's skates, and for a moment it appeared the goalie, who had no clue of the puck's location, might kick it into the net himself.

But the 'Piques swept in to clear it away from harm's way.

"He shot pretty weak, but (the puck) went up and went down and I just missed it," said Tremblay who made 17 saves for the win.

'A BIT LUCKY'

"I guess I was a little bit lucky on that shot, but I guess you've got to be lucky sometimes."

The 'Piques had three power-play chances in the opening period to Drummondville's none, but came away down a goal.

Frederic St-Denis put the Volts ahead with the lone marker of the opening period after a Gatineau turnover in the neutral zone.

But the 'Piques took control in the middle period. Defenceman Maxime Mallette scored the tying goal three minutes into the second, snapping a shot over Lacasse's shoulder.

Mathieu Curadeau scored the go-ahead goal three minutes later, before Giroux scored his goal that gave the 'Piques control.

The 'Piques travel to Chicoutimi for the first two games of the second round, beginning Friday. Games 3 and 4 are next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Guertin.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com

Olympiques 3

Voltigeurs 2

Gatineau wins series 4-3


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