FINAL: Sea Dogs 1, Screaming Eagles 2
SYDNEY, NS – It’s good to be humbled every now and then. But for the Saint John Sea Dogs, it is becoming a regular occurrence.
After barely beating a young Halifax Mooseheads squad on Friday night, the Sea Dogs fell 2-1 to cellar dwelling Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action on Sunday afternoon at Centre 200.
Viktor Hertzberg broke a 1-1 deadlock with nine seconds remaining to win the game for the home side. Francois Lacerte was solid in the Cape Breton crease, stopping 29 of 30 shots.
The Sea Dogs, yet again, showed little life at times and their compete level just wasn’t there like it has been in the past. Their high powered offence fell silent until a third period power play when Zach Phillips found the back of the net.
This trend goes all the way back to the team’s loss in Montreal last Friday. Then the next day the Sea Dogs blew a 5-1 second period lead in Drummondville. Friday, Saint John fell behind 2-0 in the first period before climbing back.
The loss can’t be pinned on Frederic Piche, who played very well in net and stopped 23 of 25 shots.
Something will have to be changed in time for this weekend’s games against the powerful Moncton Wildcats and Montreal Junior.
Right off the opening the face-off the Eagles entered the zone and cranked a shot off the left post. Soon after, Zach Phillips had a solid chance as he split the defence and threw the puck wide while falling onto his backside.
Raman Hrabarenka hammered Nathan Beaulieu at the blue line in front of the Eagles bench moments later, sending the third year Sea Dogs defenseman flying onto the ice.
After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, a short pass from the blue line fed Steven Anthony for a short breakaway. The Vancouver Canucks prospect skated in and went to his backhand but was denied by Francois Lacerte in the Eagles crease.
Brad Cuzner went to the box at 9:17 after he hooked Anthony on the play. On the power play, the Sea Dogs worked the puck well but got few shots off. Anthony tried a toe drag and ripped a shot by Eagles defender Stephen Woodworth but Lacerte spotted the disc and made the stop.
Logan Shaw had a great chance following his team’s successful penalty kill. Shaw finished off a two-on-one chance by firing a shot top shelf but Frederic Piche made a beautiful arm save to keep it scoreless. Not long after, Pierre-Antoine Dionne deflected a shot off the crossbar of the Saint John goal.
The Sea Dogs ended the frame with Michel Kirkpatrick sending a great pass to Stanislav Galiev at the other side of the crease but the puck was deflected before he could get a stick on it.
Shots in the first were 8-8.
Right out of the gate the Eagles entered the zone on a three-on-one with Woodworth keeping the puck and firing a shot on Piche that was stopped.
Jonathan Huberdeau headed to the box at 1:35 but it would be easily killed off by Saint John. At 4:01 the Dogs headed to the man advantage but had no great chances. The best scoring opportunity came when Galiev let go a huge shot that was denied by Lacerte with the leather.
Alexandre Carrier had a solid chance, wristing a shot on goal as he entered the zone but had it stopped by Piche. Moments later, a bad line change by the Sea Dogs' fourth line allowed the Eagles to enter the zone on a five-on-two play. Hertzberg kept the puck but couldn’t get a good shot off.
Play opened up a bit halfway through the frame. A scramble in the crease led to Jurco having a dangerous looking shot blocked. Then, Cuzner led a two-on-one but Piche kept it out with his shoulder.
Galiev let another big shot go – this time from the top of the circle. He put his head down and snapped a shot through traffic that hit the iron and stayed out.
Shaw headed to the box at 14:28 but Saint John had no scoring chances during the two minute span. The Dogs headed to another power play at 17:32 when Felix Bergeron headed off for interference. Galiev fed Huberdeau with a nice spin move in front but the sophomore was stopped in close by Lacerte.
It looked like Saint John took a 1-0 lead in the dying minutes of the second. Kirkpatrick sent a cross ice pass to Galiev with the puck going off his skate and in. Referee Jeff Hopkins waved the goal off immediately saying it was a kicking motion and that call would stand.
Shots in the second, like the first, were 8-8.
Olivier Jodoin was sent to the box at the 13 second mark for tripping. On the man advantage, Saint John finally opened the scoring at 1:19. Gabriel Bourret unleashed a point shot that went through a pile of traffic with Zach Phillips applying a terrific tip. The puck went through the legs of Lacerte to make it 1-0 Sea Dogs.
Saint John gained momentum following the goal. Galiev had yet another good chance and tried to go five-hole with a wrist shot but was stopped. Then, Huberdeau found the puck at the side of the net but couldn’t jam it by the post.
Carrier had a good chance for the Eagles at the other end but had his tipped shot gloved by Piche.
Cape Breton went to the power play at 6:11 but had no good chances to tie the affair. Following the penalty kill, the Dogs went back to work with Aidan Kelly trying to jam one by Lacerte at the side of the net. Soon after, Jurco let a shot go that deflected off the glove of Lacerte. After a few crazy bounces, the puck sat in the crease for Steven Anthony but he could not connect.
Then some controversy started. Huberdeau had the puck in front and patiently waited for Lacerte to commit to one side of the net. After he did, Huberdeau weaved around and him and unleashed a backhand shot that was kept out by falling bodies – including Woodworth taking down Kirkpatrick in a penalty-worthy move.
But play continued and headed down ice where Dionne threw the puck in the crease and Shaw finished it off with a shot that just squeaked through Piche’s pads at 14:43. Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant was furious about the goal after there was no call on Kirkpatrick.
Just when it looked like the game was headed for overtime, another wild play occurred. What looked like an easy clearing attempt for Kevin Gagne was stopped at the blue line. The Eagles found the puck and threw it on net where Hertzberg put it in to give Cape Breton a 2-1 lead with nine seconds to go.
A short review took place after the scramble but it was ruled good, giving Cape Breton the improbable two points.
Shots in the third were 14-9 Saint John.
The Sea Dogs were 1/5 on the power play while the Eagles were 0/2.
NOTES: See Sea Dogs Postscript tomorrow.
NEXT GAME: The Sea Dogs host the Moncton Wildcats on Friday night at 7:30 pm at Harbour Station.