STATION NATION POST-GAME
FINAL/SO: Saint John 4, Drummondville 3
DRUMMONDVILLE – It was a thriller on Friday night at a sold-out Marcel Dionne Centre. The game will have everybody in the QMJHL finally saying that the Saint John Sea Dogs are for real.
In the battle of the best the Sea Dogs managed to pull out a 4-3 shootout victory in a game that had a bit of everything. Tomas Jurco and Mike Hoffman scored in the shootout to give the Sea Dogs their 22nd victory of the season.
Scoring in regulation for Saint John was Jurco, Kevin Gagne, and Nicholas Petersen. Drummondville replied with goals from Sean Couturier, Ryan McKiernan, and Gabriel Dumont.
The game was certainly one of the highlights of the season so far. And, something that flew a bit under the radar in this game is that Saint John has won an amazing 14 straight games. These two teams are set to play each other again next Friday at Harbour Station, a game that is already becoming highly anticipated.
It was a fast and energetic first period of hockey. Saint John opened the scoring just 1:04 into the first as Tomas Jurco beat Drummondville goaltender Frederic Piche to make it 1-0. Jurco and Steven Anthony went in on a two-on-one with Anthony taking the initial shot. Jurco picked up the rebound and walked around Piche to score his sixth of the season.
Right off that goal the Voltigeurs came alive with some good scoring chances. Marc-Antoine Gelinas made the save of the period when the Volts leading scoring Mac-Olivier Vachon picked up a rebound. Vachon moved left-to-right around Gelinas but was robbed by the glove of the Sea Dogs goaltender.
Saint John, sporting the QMJHL’s worst penalty kill, was put to the test at 7:43 when Jonathan Huberdeau went the sin bin for tripping. The Dogs managed to kill it off but Michael Kirkpatrick took a boarding penalty shortly after. Andrew Randazzo had a good chance to tie the game but was denied by Gelinas.
The Sea Dogs then went to the power play at 11:46. Nicholas Petersen walked around a Drummondville defenseman but sent his shot wide of the goal. Then Simon Despres let a point shot go but Mike Hoffman couldn’t send the rebound home.
The Volts had a good chance a few minutes later as Vachon centered for Benoit Levesque but had his stick lifted. Saint John had a good chance on the transition but could not score.
In the dying minutes of the first, a Despres point shot was once again picked up by Hoffman on the rebound but had his shot deflected.
Both teams went 0/2 in power play opportunities. Saint John outshot Drummondville 11-10 through the first 20 minutes.
The Volts had the better of the scoring chances early on in the second period. Mac-Antoine Desnoyers was stopped twice by Gelinas on the door step.
Saint John made it 2-0 on the power play at 6:54. With Gabriel Dumont in the box for roughing, Kevin Gagne fired a shot that appeared to hit Mike Thomas but was credited to Gagne.
Les then a minute later Drummondville got on the board to make it 2-1. Philippe Lefebvre picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Sea Dogs zone. He then fired a pass to Ryan McKiernan who let a shot go into the empty net.
At 10:12 Nicholas Petersen picked up the puck at center ice and went in on a breakaway. He wristed a shot that went underneath Piche and gave Saint John back their two goal advantage.
Saint John captain Mike Thomas took a questionable roughing call 10:57 when he ran into the Volts net minder. Drummondville made no mistake on the man advantage with Sean Couturier scoring his 17th of the season at 11:44. Gelinas and Despres both felt that there was goaltender interference on the play as Dumont tried to shove the Sea Dogs goalie into the net.
A few minutes later a Drummondville shot found its way behind Gelinas but was immediately waved off as the whistle had gone.
Shots were tied at 13 apiece in another fast pace period of intense hockey. Both teams also had a power play goal.
Saint John went to power play at 5:07 of the third period but couldn’t get any good scoring chances. The Sea Dogs struggled in the third getting the puck out of their own zone and didn’t get a shot until almost nine minutes in.
The officials then chose to decide the game by themselves. Steven Anthony was called for an obvious hook at 12:00. Saint John killed off the penalty only to have Benjamin Lecomte called for slashing at 14:31. Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant was furious with the call after Drummondville had six to seven players on the ice for an extended period of time.
On the penalty kill, Gelinas made a terrific save off Ondrej Palat who was on a partial breakaway. But Gelinas couldn’t stop a McKiernan point shot that was tipped by Dumont. That tied the game 3-3 with under four minutes to go in the final period.
Palat then hit Hoffman in the face with his stick but no call was made. Dumont was robbed by Gelinas twice in close with just over a minute to go.
The Voltigeurs outshot the Sea Dogs 12-1 in the third (no, that’s not a typo). This game required some bonus time in the form of four-on-four overtime.
Drummondville mostly dominated over time and outshot Saint John 4-2. Marc-Antoine Gelinas was the best player in overtime stopping Levesque and Randazzo who had good scoring chances. No team could score which meant a breakaway challenge was needed to decide this one.
Drummondville shot first with Alexandre Comtois stopped on a deke by Gelinas. With the boos reigning down from the Voltigeurs faithful, Mike Hoffman moved in and beat Piche five-hole to give Saint John a 1-0 advantage.
Vachon shot second for the Volts but hit the post. Then rookie Tomas Jurco had a chance to win it and did just that as his shot beat Piche inside the right post.
With the Sea Dogs victory, they improve their league best record to 22-4-1-0. Drummondville fell to 19-4-0-2 and still sits second overall in the QMJHL.
Final shots were 39-27 in favour of the Volts. Marc-Antoine Gelinas picked up his 15th win while Frederic Piche got his first loss.
NOTES: The attendance was 3,015… there was some pre-game speculation that Olivier Ouellet would be in the stands watching the game according to Tim Roszell. “It’s unknown when or if he’ll return,” said Roszell… there was a lengthy pre-game presentation involving Voltigeur players… Brian Cleveland filled in Rex Baldwin on News 88.9 in doing the out of town scoreboard… Director of Hockey Operations Mike Kelly was not at this game due to the Monctonian Challenge this week… it was Mike Hoffman’s turn to wear the “A” on his sweater. He and Nicholas Petersen are to switch every 10 games… News 88.9 Top Dog was Marc-Antoine Gelinas.