FINAL: Juniors 2, Sea Dogs 5
SAINT JOHN – Caught in the excitement of the Saint John Sea Dogs new goaltending acquisition was a well played game against one the best in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Sea Dogs downed the visiting Juniors 5-2 at Harbour Station on Sunday afternoon, erasing memories of their subpar game in Montreal a few weeks ago. It was the final meeting of the season between the two contenders.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice while Stephen MacAulay, Zach Phillips, and Tomas Jurco added singles. Montreal goals came courtesy of Montreal Canadiens prospect Louis Leblanc and Francis Meilleur.
Goaltender Frederic Piche, who played over half of the game without a backup sitting on the bench, played extremely well and made a few sensational saves to keep momentum going in Saint John’s favour. The 19-year old made 34 saves in the win.
Los Angeles Kings prospect Jean-Francois Berube was no match for Saint John’s offense in the Juniors’ net, allowing five goals on 18 shots. Backup Etienne Marcoux made 10 saves after he relieved Berube to start the third period.
Saint John had a quality scoring opportunity early on when a three-on-one for the Dogs was broken up by a Montreal defenseman.
At 4:51, Simon Despres headed to the box for tripping. On the power play, Piche stopped a point shot but could not stop the rebound as Leblanc batted in a bouncing puck to make it 1-0 Montreal at 5:07.
The Juniors kept their momentum going following the goal, forcing Piche to make a few quick saves with his legs. Their best chance came with a cross ice pass hit something and edged Piche’s toe to stay out.
Philippe Lefebvre headed to the box at 8:12 for tripping Ryan Tesink. On the man advantage, Kevin Gagne fired a wrist shot high and over the goal before Berube robbed Jurco down low with a diving glove save.
With the power play expired, Saint John tied the affair at 14:35. Jonathan Huberdeau had the puck at the rim of the faceoff circle and tried to pass the puck down low but missed Stanislav Galiev. The puck went by everything and through the five-hole of Berube to make it 1-1.
On the next shift, Leblanc hit the crossbar with the puck sitting in the crease before it was cleared.
The Sea Dogs took the lead at 18:42 after a point shot went wide of the net. MacAulay found the puck behind the cage and performed a wraparound move that beat the Montreal net minder up against the post to make it 2-1.
Shots in the first were 10-8 Montreal.
After Saint John killed off a Jonathan Huberdeau penalty, the Dogs started to hit the accelerator button. Galiev started it off with a hard wrister that was gloved by Berube followed by Danick Gauthier lowering the boom on Michael Clarke along the boards. Then a bizarre point shot bounced just over the crossbar on an innocent looking shot.
Despite Saint John’s pressure, Montreal tied the game at 9:10. Meilleur fired a point shot through a ton traffic that beat a blind Piche to even the match once again.
But the Juniors gave the Sea Dogs another power play chance at 11:27. On that man advantage, Galiev hit the post with the rebound going directly to Michael Kirkpatrick. The Sea Dogs alternate captain had a yawning cage but was denied by an unbelievable diving stop by Berube.
But the Sea Dogs would connect at 12:57 as Steven Anthony fed Phillips from behind the net to give Saint John a 3-2 lead.
The Juniors got into more penalty trouble at 15:46 when they were caught for too many men. The Dogs would once again capitalize when Jurco accepted a cross ice feed but ripped the puck off the post. He gathered his own rebound and made no mistake this time, beating Berube to make it 4-2.
Saint John would go up by three at 19:35 as Huberdeau skated across the line on a partial break and simply fired the disc through the pads of Berube from long range to make it 5-2.
Shots in the middle stanza were 13-10 Montreal.
Jeremy Gouchie had a partial break early in the frame but was denied by the pad of Piche.
Marcoux replaced Berube in the Montreal net to start the third and was tested early. Anthony skated between two Juniors defenders and got a decent shot off but was hooked up by Gouchie on the play. But the Sea Dogs couldn’t produce on the power play and struggled to get anything going.
With Anthony already in the box for hooking, Despres headed off as well giving Montreal a 36 second two man advantage. But Saint John would put together a solid penalty kill with no serious attacks threatening them.
Tesink and Alex Micallef dropped the gloves at 12:19 in a short but angry tilt. We’ll call it a draw.
Phillips had a great chance to score as the period came to an end on a deke in close but was stopped by huge glove save by Marcoux.
Shots in the third were 13-10 Juniors.
Saint John went 2/4 on the power play while Montreal was 1/4.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday night at 7:00 pm at Harbour Station vs the Rimouski Oceanic.