Saturday, April 30, 2016

That Was Fun

Frustratingly pleasant – that’s how I would describe the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 2016 playoff run.

This year’s post-season was frustrating because it left us with a lot of what ifs. What if Adam Marsh was healthy? What if Mathieu Joseph didn’t get hurt? What if Bokondji Imama didn’t get suspended? What if everyone on the Sea Dogs’ roster was present and healthy? It’s not out of the question to say the Sea Dogs may still be playing right now if some things had gone their way. But it is what it is. And that’s no doubt a bit frustrating.

But at the same time – and for the same reasons – this playoff run proved to be surprising and pleasant. This team found ways to score goals without two of their top goal scorers. Other players stepped up into bigger roles. This team pleasantly surprised on a number of nights – and gave plenty of reasons to be excited about next season and beyond.

This year’s post-season was certainly entertaining. The first round wasn’t an awful lopsided series, which was nice. The second round against Cape Breton was one of the best in Sea Dogs history – and finally featured a game seven. And the third round had the Shawinigan-Saint John matchup we’ve been waiting years for. You’ve got to be pretty happy with all that.

Some other takes from the playoffs…
  • Sam Povorozniouk finishes with 14 goals and 11 assists in 17 playoff games. He finished his one-year QMJHL career with 53 goals in 85 games. He will be missed.
  • Thomas Chabot finished the playoffs with an incredible three goals and 18 assists, which places him sixth in overall scoring. The Sea Dogs might be missing him next year as well, but that's up to the Ottawa Senators.
  • Obviously, the third round could have been a whole lot different if the Sea Dogs had pulled off wins in games three and four at home. Oh well.
  • Saint John finished the post-season with an average of 4,321 fans per game, which is the highest amount of any remaining team.
  • I don’t care what you think of Shawinigan and their fans, it would be something to have that kind of atmosphere inside Harbour Station.
  • Joe Veleno was quiet at times this post-season and then looked like an exceptional player at other times. He was unreal in game four and finished the playoffs with six goals and an assist. It’ll be fun to watch him moving forward.
  • The Sea Dogs ended the playoffs with a four-game losing streak.
  • In four of the five games against Shawinigan, Saint John gave up five or more goals. Anthony Beauvillier led the way with six goals and six assists.
  • Saint John managed to score three or more goals on Philippe Cadorette in four of the five games, so that’s something.
  • Marc-Antoine Turcotte posted a 6.00 GAA and .810 SV% in the semifinals. The Sea Dogs simply could not contain the Cataractes’ big guns.
  • Will the Sea Dogs ever win an elimination game in Shawinigan? That’s a building that has not been kind to Saint John.
  • It was nice to see Matthew Highmore have a strong post-season – and regular season as well – after the season he had last year.
  • If you didn’t catch the 96.1 NewSong FM post-game show on Friday, it was revealed that Matt Murphy did indeed suffer a separated shoulder in game two.
  • Murphy played in his 76th and final career QMJHL playoff game on Friday. That’s a lot.
  • The Sea Dogs played 17 playoff games this year. They played 17 en route to a QMJHL title in 2012. Makes ya think.

Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

GAME 5 RECAP: Sea Dogs Lose 6-3

FINAL: Saint John 3, Shawinigan 6
By Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs’ season ended with a tough 6-3 loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes on Friday evening at Centre Gervais Auto. The win allowed Shawinigan to win the semifinal series 4-1 and move on to the President Cup final for the first time since 2009.

Sea Dogs players, coaches, management and many fans surely will be disappointed by the result of the semifinal. However, in time, they should find solace in a tremendous run by one of the younger teams in the QMJHL. The future is clearly bright for this group of hard working, resilient players. This team simply refused to quit and, after a couple of tough seasons, learned how to win. 

Veterans Matt Murphy, Sam Povorozniouk and Marc-Antoine Turcotte provided real leadership and guidance. Other than the three overagers, nearly all of the players are expected to return for the 2016-17 season. It would be easy to lament about the loss of NHL prospects Mathieu Joseph and Adam Marsh to season ending injuries. But the experience and maturity gained by up and coming stars such as Joe Veleno, Thomas Chabot, Nathan Noel, Luke Green, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Jakub Zboril et al is invaluable. Also of note, Matthew Highmore, Spencer Smallman, Bokondji Imama and Daniel Del Paggio also have been outstanding and have truly grown into leadership roles this season.

Anthony Beauvillier led Shawinigan to the clinching victory with an impressive two goal, three assist performance. Alex Pawelczyk - with two goals - Dennis Yan and Dmytro Timashov also scored for the Cataractes. Matt Murphy, Joe Veleno and Thomas Chabot replied for Saint John. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

VIDEO: Dancing Guy At Tuesday's Game

SAINT JOHN - I don't know who this guy is, but I hope he comes back.

Good stuff.

This video was taken on Tuesday night, during game three of the Sea Dogs' semifinal playoffs series against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

PLAYOFF GAME DAY 5: at Shawinigan

The Saint John Sea Dogs must win tonight to keep their season alive. Following an overtime victory on Wednesday, the Shawinigan Cataractes carry a 3-1 series lead into tonight’s game five. Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. at Centre Gervais Auto.

TV/Radio/Webcast: MAtv/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: Shawinigan leads the best-of-seven semifinal series 3-1.

Game 1: Saint John 6, Shawinigan 5 (OT)
Game 2: Saint John 1, Shawinigan 7
Game 3: Shawinigan 7, Saint John 3
Game 4: Shawinigan 4, Saint John 3 (OT)
Game 5: Friday, April 29 at 8:30 p.m. – Saint John at Shawinigan

Last game: Danny Moynihan scored 46 seconds into overtime to give the Cataractes a 4-3 win over the Sea Dogs on Wednesday at Harbour Station. Gabriel Sylvestre, Anthony Beauvillier and Dmytro Timashov also scored for Shawinigan. Sam Povorozniouk, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Joe Veleno scored for Saint John. Philippe Cadorette made 36 saves in the win. Marc-Antoine Turcotte made 20 stops in the loss.

2015-16 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs were 2-0-0-0 against the Cataractes in the regular season while Shawinigan went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Cataractes: None

Player to watch: Shawinigan defenseman Gabriel Sylvestre, who had one goal and 13 points in 66 regular season games, has two goals and an assist so far in this series.

Three Things to Know
1. Bokondji Imama is eligible to return from his seven-game suspension tonight. Imama has one goal and two assists in nine playoff games this year.

2. Sam Povorozniouk continues to lead the league in playoff scoring with 24 points and goals with 14. Thomas Chabot has registered a league high 18 assists.

3. The Sea Dogs have had some third period struggles lately. They currently have a minus-eight goal differential in thirds this post-season. Their best period has been the second, where they have a plus-five differential.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another Do Or Die Game

For the third time this post-season, the Saint John Sea Dogs are facing elimination.

In round two against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, the Sea Dogs, down 3-2 in the series, won games six and seven to advance to the semifinals. They’ll have to win another elimination game tomorrow night in Shawinigan if they want to stay alive. Game time is 8:30 p.m. at Centre Gervais Auto.

The Sea Dogs enter tomorrow’s game five down 3-1 in the series. Saint John won game one in overtime and then went on to lose three straight. The frustrating part is that both games three and four were winnable – Saint John imploded in the third period on Tuesday and then fell in overtime on Wednesday.

This series has had some unpredictable and unusual moments. Leads haven't meant much and momentum shifts quickly. Even though the Cataractes carry momentum into Friday's match, anything can happen. 

Saint John is 4-3 on the road this post-season while Shawinigan is 5-3 at home.

Some other notes…
  • The Sea Dogs will, presumably, have Bokondji Imama back in their lineup tomorrow night. His seven-game suspension ended on Wednesday.
  • Will we see Alex Bishop in net again on Friday? Bishop made 20 saves in his first career playoff start on Wednesday.
  • Anthony Beauvillier has four goals and seven points so far in this series.
  • Sam Povorozniouk continues to lead the league in playoff scoring with 24 points and goals with 14. Thomas Chabot has a league high 18 assists. Nathan Noel has served a league leading 30 penalty minutes.
  • If the Sea Dogs win on Friday, game six is on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.

Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

GAME 4 RECAP: Sea Dogs Lose 4-3 (OT)

FINAL: Shawinigan 4, Saint John 3 (OT)
By Kevin Chambers & Jamie Tozer | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – Danny Moynihan’s goal 46 seconds into overtime has pushed the Saint John Sea Dogs to the brink of elimination.

Moynihan’s goal gave the Shawinigan Cataractes a 4-3 victory and a 3-1 series lead heading into Friday’s game five at Centre Gervais Auto. Gabriel Sylvestre, Anthony Beauvillier and Dmytro Timashov scored also scored for Shawinigan on Wednesday night at Harbour Station. Philippe Cadorette made 36 saves in the win.

Sam Povorozniouk, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Joe Veleno scored for Saint John. Alex Bishop, who got the start in goal for the Sea Dogs, made 20 stops in the loss.

Making his first career playoff start, Bishop did well keeping the dangerous Cataractes offense at bay early on. The Sea Dogs would get on the board first when the league’s leading scorer, Povorozniouk, slid a shot past Cadorette to make it 1-0 on a power play at 18:30.