FINAL: Sea Dogs 4, Olympiques 3
GATINEAU, Que. – They simply refuse to lose.
The Saint John Sea Dogs have now won 15 consecutive contests and are unbeaten in regulation in their past 22 games. Their latest win came Friday evening at Robert Guertin Arena as the top-ranked team in Canada defeated the Gatineau Olympiques 4-3 in a wild Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest.
Michael Kirkpatrick, Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu, and Stanislav Galiev all scored for Saint John. Jonathan Huberdeau chipped in with two assists. Goaltender Jacob DeSerres played extremely well for the Dogs, making some huge stops to keep Saint John in front.
Gatineau had goals from Jacob Conrad, Mitchell Porowski, and Hubert Labrie. Maxime Clermont struggled in the first period, allowing two goals on eight shots. Francois Lacerte replaced him to start the second period and put on clinic for most of the night, making 20 saves in the loss.
It was a bit of a strange one. The Sea Dogs scored two goals in less than 90 seconds to open the game and then got into penalty trouble. But the Saint John would kill off those penalties until the final frame where it finally started to cost them. The third period was flat out bizarre as both teams had penalty shots.
The victory gives Saint John 50 wins on the year, which, according to the Sea Dogs' Twitter, makes them only the fourth team in QMJHL to have back-to-back 50 win campaigns.
This game was a good test for Saint John as they battled through some adversity to win. Blame the officials all you want about some of the calls in this game, but the truth is the Sea Dogs have been quite undisciplined at times over the past few games. Luckily it hasn’t cost them any games, but with the playoffs just around the corner, now is the time to fix these kinds of problems.
Just 30 seconds into the game, Michael Kirkpatrick came down the wing and then fired the puck on goal. Maxime Clermont made the stop but Kirkpatrick picked up the rebound to give the Sea Dogs an early 1-0 lead.
Saint John kept on rolling after that. At 1:24, Zack Phillips sent a long shot in on goal that looked like it would be easily controlled by Clermont. But the Gatineau goaltender made a fumble and managed to get the puck into his own net to make it a 2-0 Saint John lead.
Before the crowd could even go into stunned mode, Eric Gelinas was called for interference at 1:49. On the ensuing Olympiques power play, the ever-dangerous Philip-Michael Devos sent a cross ice feed to Jean-Gabriel Pageau he sent the shot on net but was deflected away by Sea Dogs keeper Jacob DeSerres. That would prove to be the best scoring opportunity.
Saint John continued to get into some penalty trouble as Kirkpatrick headed off at 7:44. The ‘Piques had some good procession and some decent pressure but failed to get on the board.
The Dogs would have a minute or so of pressure themselves following the penalty. The pressure soon came to end as Gabriel Bourret took the Sea Dogs’ third penalty of the game at 12:42. But much like the previous two man advantages, Gatineau just couldn’t get anything dangerous going.
Mike Thomas had a decent chance late in the frame as the puck came loose at the side of the goal but he couldn’t get a shot off.
Shots in the first 20 minutes were 8-3 in favour of the visitors.
Francois Lacerte replaced Clermont in the Gatineau crease to start the second period. Kirkpatrick and Steven Anthony tested the former Cape Breton Screaming Eagle early on as they tried to jam that puck in but were unable to. Then, Alexandre Beauregard was sprung on a breakaway but had it broken up nicely by Mathieu Gagnon.
Gatineau had a ton of pressure on following the breakaway opportunity. After they couldn’t score on that session of action, they were given a power play opportunity at 6:26 as Bourret headed off for the second time. Philippe Halley had a good chance down low but was denied by DeSerres and Adam Janosik blasted a shot that was deflected out of danger.
After the Olympiques man advantage failed to connect again, Saint John went back to work as they were given a power play of their own at 9:31. Simon Despres sent a point shot on net that was gloved by Lacerte – and that would be about it for the man advantage span. The Dogs had some okay prrssure but no terrific chances.
With the penalty just over, Gatineau got on the board at 11:49. Jacob Conrad shot the puck from a sharp angle and the shot went off DeSerres and in to make it a 2-1 affair.
Tomas Jurco had a great chance following the goal, breaking free from the defense and cutting through the crease but was denied on his forehand opportunity.
Some back-and-forth action took place after that. Gatineau’s goal seemed to spark them as they played a much better frame.
Late in the period, Saint John had a flurry of chances. Huberdeau made a tremendous deke on Lacerte but was robbed by the sprawling netminder. The puck then came out for Kirkpatrick who patiently waited for a shooting lane only to be stopped as well.
Shots in the second period were 10-9 Olympiques.
The Sea Dogs went to the power play just 43 seconds into the final frame. A cross crease pass found Huberdeau alone at the side of the cage but was absolutely robbed by a sprawling Lacerate. The puck then came out to Phillips who sent a shot through some traffic but the Gatineau goaltender somehow made the stop.
On the same man advantage at 1:50, Huberdeau made some unreal spin move in front with the rebound going to the stick of Nathan Beaulieu who fired it home to give the Dogs a 3-1 advantage.
Not long after at 4:36, Huberdeau was lurking behind the goal and cut out in front, sending the puck through the crease to an open Stanislav Galiev who had a wide open net to make it a 4-1 Saint John lead.
But the Olympiques didn’t stay down for long. Christian Ouellet dropped the puck for a streaking Mitchell Porowski who sent a blistering wrist shot go past DeSerres to make it a two-goal game once again.
Soon after Pageau hit the iron, Gatineau had yet another power play at 11:12 – and that is when everything got a little strange. At 12:03, Danick Gauthier was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. Gauthier made a move but just couldn’t slide the disc past Lacerte. As if having a shorthanded penalty shot in a game wasn’t odd enough, the Olympiques were then awarded a penalty shot just 19 seconds later. Pageau was the shooter but had his backhand chance denied by DeSerres.
Gatineau pulled within one at 13:05 on the same power play. Captain Hubert Labrie, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, scored the feel-good goal of the year to make it a 4-3 tilt. As the crowd chanted, the Sea Dogs bench was furious as there appeared to be six Gatineau players on the ice at the time. Either way, the goal would stand.
Huberdeau went to the sin bin at 13:53. DeSerres came up big during the penalty kill, stoning Devos on a one time chance at the side of the crease. When the power play ended for the Olympiques, DeSerres remained in animal mode by stopping both Halley and Labrie on solid scoring opportunities.
With 90 seconds left, Gatineau called a timeout and Lacerte remained on the bench. Then, with 52 seconds left, a rather weak hooking call was assessed to Huberdeau to give the Olympiques the rare six-on-four opportunity. But despite out numbering the Sea Dogs, they could not score, falling 4-3 to the visiting squad.
Shots in the third period were 13 apiece.
Saint John went 1-for-2 on the power play while Gatineau went 1-for-5.
SAINT JOHN SCRATCHES
Forwards Ryan Tesink, Jason Cameron, and Aidan Kelly were all scratched for Saint John. With three forwards out again, defenseman Kevin Gagne spent some time on the wing once again.
Jacob DeSerres was the News 88.9 Top Dog… this was the first game of a three-in-three Quebec road swing for the Sea Dogs… Saint John has not lost in regulation since December 30 in Bathurst… Jason Seed returned to Gatineau for the first time since his trade. He was both booed and cheered… Stanislav Galiev has now scored in five straight games… Zack Phillips had a team high seven shots for Saint John… Nicolas Deslauriers led the way for the Olympiques with five shots… the Sea Dogs are driving to Victoriaville tonight. They play at 5:00 pm tomorrow… to relive the match, check out the SN Live Blog Replay.
The Sea Dogs are in Victoriaville tomorrow afternoon for a 5:00 pm date with the Tigres.
Photo Credit: Facebook