FINAL: Wildcats 2, Sea Dogs 6
SAINT JOHN – It still doesn’t take away the pain of losing in the President’s Cup Final last year, but Friday’s performance by the Saint John Sea Dogs certainly helped take away a small portion of it.
The Sea Dogs dominated the Moncton Wildcats for the majority of their 6-2 win on Friday night at Harbour Station in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action, getting some revenge on the club that ended their season in the six game final series last May.
The Sea Dogs finally fired on all cylinders, connecting on offense as well as stepping it up defensively. Goaltender Karel St. Laurent quietly played a solid game by stopping 21 shots.
Tomas Jurco scored a pair while singles came from Nathan Beaulieu, Stanislav Galiev, Steven Anthony, and Simon Despres.
Moncton goals came from Daniel Pettersson and Marek Hrivik. Shane Owen picked up the loss in net.
Nathan Beaulieu made it 1-0 in the first period on a point shot that went through a high amount of traffic and beat Owen down low at 1:41.
Soon after the goal, Ryan Tesink had a wide open cage but couldn’t connect as the puck squirted away. Stephen MacAulay hit the crossbar down low just before Kirill Kabanov headed to the box at 11:55 and gave the Sea Dogs a power play. Despite some good pressure, Saint John could not score.
MacAulay was called for hooking at 14:48 to give the Wildcats a power play. But Beaulieu and Pierre Durepos combined to perform an excellent penalty kill for the Dogs on the backend to maintain the one goal lead.
A Zach Phillips point shot in the final minutes of the frame produced a massive rebound but nobody could find the loose puck.
Moncton tied the game at 19:10 when Daniel Pettersson finished off a wraparound attempt by sliding the puck by St. Laurent to make it 1-1 heading into intermission.
Shots in the first were 10-7 Saint John.
In the middle frame, the Sea Dogs killed off an Aidan Kelly elbowing call that carried over from the first period. A few moments later, Simon Despres went in on a partial breakaway attempt but chose to pass the puck back where nobody was available.
After roughly nine minutes of absolutely nothing happening, a scrum in the Saint John crease led to a power play opportunity for the Dogs at 9:34. On the man advantage, Durepos had a chance in close but was denied by Owen’s blocker. Then Michael Kirkpatrick had an open cage but had his shot blocked.
The floodgates opened at 13:12. Zach Phillips fed Tomas Jurco with a cross crease pass. The Slovak connected with a beautiful backhand shot over Owen to make it a 2-1 Sea Dogs lead.
Just under 40 seconds later, a huge rebound surrendered by Owen allowed Stanislav Galiev to rip a shot upstairs to make it a 3-1 lead for the home side.
Kabanov headed back to the sin bin at 13:56 for tripping. On the power play, Despres had another great chance in close by tipping a shot high. But at 15:34, Kevin Gagne fired a point shot with a small but juicy rebound left for Steven Anthony who was parked in the crease. The Vancouver Canucks prospect let loose a backhand shot that beat Owen to increase the Dogs’ lead to three.
Moncton called a time-out following the goal but it didn’t seem to help too much as Saint John kept their momentum going.
At 18:24, Beaulieu was sent to the box for high sticking Kabanov in the face. On the man advantage opportunity, Marek Hrivik was robbed by an unbelievable cross crease pad save by St. Laurent.
Shots in the middle frame were 15-9 Saint John.
Moncton got it going early in the third period. Simon Jodoin fired a point shot through traffic that was tipped by Hrivik. The puck found its way up and over the glove of St. Laurent to make it a two goal game once again.
But the Dogs would get the goal back at 1:11. Danick Gauthier sent a pass from along the side boards that found Jurco at the side of the net where he deposited the disc to make it a 5-2 game.
Gagne headed to the box at 5:32 for holding – but it would be the Sea Dogs who would take advantage of the Wildcats’ power play. Despres entered the Moncton zone on an innocent looking rush and shot the puck on net. Owen stopped the puck with his glove but didn’t get enough of it to stop in from trickling across the goal line and making it a 6-2 game. Owen was replaced by Philippe Trudeau in net following the goal.
Hrivik had yet another scoring chance later on as he shot the puck on a two-on-one play but was stopped by St. Laurent.
After the ‘Cats killed off yet another Kabanov penalty, they would kill off a Jodoin cross checking penalty as well.
With 1:03 to go in the game, Gauthier and Daoust dropped the gloves in the corner in a spirited bout that featured both players firing the fists to a draw.
Shots in the final stanza were 8-7 Saint John.
The Sea Dogs went 1/5 on the power play while Moncton went 0/4.