LEWISTON, Me. – The Saint John Sea Dogs are heading back to the President’s Cup final.
The Sea Dogs advanced to the final after eliminating the Lewiston Maineiacs in a four game sweep in the semifinals. It was entertaining series and the two teams saved the best for last. In Game Four last night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the Sea Dogs battled back from thee-goals down to win 6-5 and ultimately end the Maineiacs’ season.
It was a rough start for the Dogs and their starting goaltender, Mathieu Corbeil. Cameron Critchlow and Alex Zafiris both scored to give Lewiston a 2-0 lead just 2:43 in. That would be it for Corbeil who allowed two goals on two shots.
Jacob DeSerres came in in relief and also got off to a rough start. Olivier Dame-Malka scored on a wrist shot at 5:05 to extend the Maineiacs’ lead to 3-0.
Saint John finally got things straightened out at 7:07 as Zack Phillips scored to make it a two-goal game going into the second period.
In the middle frame, Nathan Beaulieu scored on an early power play to get the Dogs within one. But Lewiston responded quickly as Stefan Fournier scored at 3:44 to make it a 4-2 contest. The wildness continued as Scott Oke and Jonathan Huberdeau both scored solo markers to tie the match 4-4 heading into the final frame.
At 4:35 on a man advantage, Eric Gelinas let a bomb go that beat Maineiacs goaltender Andrey Makarov to put Saint John in front for the first time. But the lead was short lived as Pierre-Olivier Morin scored a little over a minute later to make it 5-5.
With 2:52 remaining in regulation, Stephen MacAulay scored his second game-winning goal of the series to give the Sea Dogs a 6-5 victory and series win.
SAINT JOHN SCRATCHES
Saint John continues to sport the same lineup. Forwards Aidan Kelly and Jason Cameron along with defenseman Jason Seed were all healthy scratches.
It’s been a bizarre series for Saint John’s goaltenders. Mathieu Corbeil made his third straight start in goal for the Dogs after coming up huge in both Games Two and Three. But he had his struggles on Wednesday, allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced.
Cameron Critchlow scored early at 1:21 and then Alex Zafiris found the score sheet at 2:43. Corbeil was yanked after that. Jacob DeSerres came in and allowed three goals on 28 shots, making some big saves when called upon.
DeSerres was pulled in Game One and replaced by Corbeil who then made the next three starts.
GAGNE BREAKING STUFF
Kevin Gagne’s point shot at 3:12 missed the net and shattered a pane of glass behind Lewiston ‘tender Andrey Makarov. The glass stayed together for the most part with the exception of a small slab near the top. The game was delayed and fans moved away as the Androscoggin Bank Colisee staff made the repairs.
They knocked out the remaining glass with a shovel, falling into garbage cans below. The floor was vacuumed and the section of ice was zambonied.
The 12-minute delay hurt the Maineiacs a bit as they had momentum going for them following their two quick goals. But it didn’t seem to hurt them too much as they scored again at 5:05.
The broken glass did create some proto fun, via Max Morin on Twitter:
Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant didn’t sound too happy with the Maineiacs’ game in today’s Telegraph-Journal:
“They were out there running and trying to hurt people,’’ Gallant said. “I wasn’t too happy with that. There were a lot of cheap hits tonight. We don’t mind teams playing aggressive against us, but there’s a line there and I think it was crossed a few times tonight.’’Speaking of Gallant, he wasn’t too happy with the officials in the second period. The two-time QMJHL coach of the year could be heard yelling some PG-13 words from the bench.
QUITE A COMEBACK
It was quite a comeback by the Sea Dogs who battled back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to win the contest. The two teams were tied at 4-4 entering the third period, a frame that saw the Sea Dogs take their first lead of the match.
"After the first five minutes, I was thinking, 'Man, this is turning around, we're starting to get some luck," Maineiacs head coach JF Houle said to the Lewiston Sun Journal. "They're a good team, they found a way to come back and win again."
"One thing we do know is we can score goals," Gallant said to the Sun Journal. "We were sound asleep for the first 15 minutes probably, until the Phillips goal went in. We got embarrassed, the guys don't like that and they showed some character."
It was the Sea Dogs’ second comeback of the series as they won Game One in overtime depite trailing 4-2 in the third period.
It was just the fourth series sweep by the Sea Dogs in team history and their first in the semifinals. Past series sweeps:
2008 – First round vs PEIThe Sea Dogs have made it to the finals by playing just 13 games. Last year, the club played 15 games before advancing to the finals.
2010 – Second round vs Gatineau
2011 – First round vs Cape Breton
Some big time hockey people attended the game according to several folks on Twitter.
According to Jean-Phillip Martin of the Radio Canada, the Edmonton Oilers were represented by president Kevin Lowe, general manager Steve Tambellini, and head scout Stu MacGregor. New York Islanders GM Garth Snow also took in the contest.
No word on if Snow signed Kirill Kabanov to a 15-year contract.
ANOTHER SMALL CROWD
Only 1,163 took in the Maineiacs’ final game of the season at the Colisee. There was a little under 1,400 in the building for Game Three on Tuesday.
Quickly glancing through Lewiston’s schedule, last night’s game was their smallest crowd of the season.
Michael Kirkpatrick was injured in last night’s contest. From the T-J:
Meanwhile, Saint John centre Michael Kirkpatrick left the contest early in the second period and didn’t return.His status is unknown.
Stanislav Galiev had a team high seven shots for Saint John… Olivier-Dame Malka had six shots for Lewiston… Kevin Gagne was a minus-three… Gabriel Bourret was a plus-three… Dillon Fournier was a minus-three… Malka had three hits… Saint John has now won seven straight games… Kirill Kabanov failed to score for the first time in this series… the Sea Dogs’ penalty kill is still perfect on the road so far this post-season… Stephen MacAulay scored his second game-winning goal of the series. He was an honourable mention in Buzzing The Net’s CHL Three Stars last night… to relive the game, check out the SN Live Blog Replay.
OUT OF TOWN
The Quebec Remparts took a 3-1 series lead in their semifinal series against Gatineau thanks to a 2-1 win last night.
Game One of the President’s Cup Finals will likely be Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm at Harbour Station. They will play either the Quebec Remparts or Gatineau Olympiques.
Photo Credits: Maineiacs website, Marc Henwood/Station Nation, Max Morin, Cyberpresse