Game One, Round Three – President’s Cup Playoffs
Lewiston MAINEiacs vs Saint John Sea Dogs
Tonight, April 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm
SAINT JOHN – It’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.
The Lewiston Maineiacs are hoping that old cliché proves to be true beginning tonight as they take on the Saint John Sea Dogs in the first game of the best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal.
The Maineiacs have been a nice story so far in the 2011 President’s Cup Playoffs. They grinded out a 4-1 series win over the Moncton Wildcats in the first round and then upset the No. 2 seeded Montreal Junior in six games in the quarter-final. Now, the road to the cup gets even harder for the club as they must go through the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.
"They're the No. 1 team in Canada and they deserve to be,” Maineiacs head coach JF Houle told the Lewiston Sun Journal about the Sea Dogs. “They've played well all year. We're going to have to pull out our best games here in order to compete with them."
“You feel no pressure,” said Michael Chaput to the Maine Hockey Journal. “Everyone expects Saint John to win obviously, just like they expected to Montreal to win. We just need to go out there like it’s our last chance to win hockey games. We are underdogs. We are supposed to lose. The whole league knows it. We feel no pressure and I think it’s easier to play like that.”
Saint John has had an easier ride through the playoffs – but that doesn’t mean they haven’ had some challenges. After destroying the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in round one, the Dogs took on the defensively strong Victoriaville Tigres. Saint John battled hard to break through the defense and goaltender David Honzik, eventually pulling off a 4-1 series win.
But this series should have a different taste to it. Like Saint John, Lewiston is offensively strong and should make for some entertaining back-and-forth playoff hockey.
The winner of this game will carry the momentum over into tomorrow’s Game Two. The series then shifts to Lewiston for Games Three and Four.
REGULAR SEASON NUMBERS
|Record||40-24-1-3 (2nd East)||58-7-1-2 (1st Maritimes)|
|Home Record||- - -||32-0-1-1|
|Road Record||19-12-0-3||- - -|
|Goals/Game||3.90 (3rd)||4.76 (1st)|
|Goals Against/Game||3.28 (10th)||2.43 (1st)|
|Shots/Game||36.81 (1st)||36.81 (1st)|
|Shots Against/Game||26.96 (5th)||26.96 (5th)|
|Overall PP||17.4% (13th)||25.1% (6th)|
|Home PP||- - -||24.4% (8th)|
|Road PP||17.7% (13th)||- - -|
|Overall PK||80.4% (6th)||83.7% (1st)|
|Home PK||- - -||86.1% (1st)|
|Road PK||80.1% (7th)||- - -|
|PIM/GAME||17.7 (1st)||13.1 (13th)|
|Record||8-3-0-0 (2nd East)||8-1-0-0 (1st Maritimes)|
|Home Record||- - -||3-1-0-0|
|Road Record||3-2-0-0||- - -|
|Goals/Game||4.00 (3rd)||5.11 (2nd)|
|Goals Against/Game||2.64 (4th)||1.67 (1st)|
|Shots/Game||30.91 (8th)||41.44 (1st)|
|Shots Against/Game||32.82 (8th)||23.22 (1st)|
|Overall PP||27.1 (5th)||33.3% (3rd)|
|Home PP||- - -||45.5% (2nd)|
|Road PP||32.4% (6th)||- - -|
|Overall PK||87.3 (3rd)||93.8% (1st)|
|Home PK||- - -||87.0 (5th)|
|Road PK||79.2% (6th)||- - -|
|PIM/GAME||16.9 (3rd)||16.0 (7th)|
GAME ONE – Friday, April 22: 7:30 p.m. @ Harbour Station
GAME TWO – Saturday, April 23: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station
GAME THREE – Tuesday, April 26: 8 p.m. @ Androscoggin Bank Colisee
GAME FOUR – Wednesday, April 27: 8 p.m. @ Androscoggin Bank Colisee
*GAME FIVE – Friday, April 29: 7:30 p.m. @ Harbour Station
*GAME SIX – Sunday, May 1: 8 p.m. @ Androscoggin Bank Colisee
*GAME SEVEN – Tuesday, May 3: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station
For Saint John, Jacob DeSerres will likely get the call in goal. DeSerres had a record of 27-3-0-0 in the regular season with a 2.22 goals against average and a 0.916 save percentage. In eight playoff games, the 20-year old has a 7-1-0-0 record, 1.87 GAA, and a save percentage of 0.923.
For Lewiston, Nicholas Champion. The former Acadie-Bathurst Titan had a record of 27-11-0-2 in the regular season to along with a 2.83 goals against average and a 0.897 save percentage. In the post-season, Champion is 8-1-2-0 with a GAA of 2.42 and a save percentage of 0.922.
BRING THE POWER
Saint John scored 324 goals during the regular season while Lewiston notched 265. The Sea Dogs have a 100-point scorer while the Maineiacs have a 50-goal getter. All of this adds up to a lot of firepower for one playoff series.
“You prepare the same as usual,” said Maineiacs goaltender Nicolas Champion said to the Maine Hockey Journal on facing a skilled offensive team. “I know I am going to be facing some shots and that could be good for a goaltender to see. You can get into it and really get into that zone. That’s what I am looking to do.”
"Lewiston is a real strong transition team and they go to the net real well," said Sea Dogs associate coach and director of hockey operations Mike Kelly to the Times & Transcript. "They like to create a lot of offence and they go to the tough areas to score goals. We're going to have to be on top of our game against them.
"Their power play is working well and they're playing disciplined. They're a gritty team that plays hard and sticks together as a group. It's going to take a solid game and gritty effort to beat them."
Only a few times have Kirill Kabanov, Stanislav Galiev, and Tomas Jurco been on the same ice surface for a QMJHL game. But now, it appears the three will play at least four games with each other.
The three players were the top three QMJHL selections in the 2009 CHL Import Draft. Saint John selected Galiev first overall, Jurco fourth overall, and Kabanov went seventh overall to the Moncton Wildcats. The ‘Cats traded the Russian forward to Lewiston this past fall.
THE SAME THING
Both Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant and Maineiacs head coach JF Houle are pretty much saying the same thing – both teams are offensively dangerous, like to skate, and need to limit defensive mistakes.
"I think we match up well," Houle said to the Lewiston Sun Journal. "I'm sure if you ask their coach, he'll say that Lewiston is one of the teams that can skate with them. We're a skating team, and we're very similar to them. I think their high skill is probably more skilled than us, but if we play physical and move our feet, then we have a chance. The players in this locker room believe it, the coaching staff believes it and even though we're the underdogs, hard work goes a long way."
From Maineiacs play-by-play man DJ Abisalih in the team's newsletter:
For dinner last night, the team enjoyed steak dinners at a local sports grill named "Rocky's" before retreating to their hotel rooms to watch a game that I would be glad to talk about this week! Of course, that was the Boston Bruins' 5-4 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens, in what is shaping up to be another classic series between two phenomenal rivals.OTHER GAMES TONIGHT
Gatineau at Quebec - 7:00 PM EDT
Venue: Harbour Station
Reg. Season Average Attendance: 4,478
Playoff Average Attendance: 4,455
QMJHL Arena Guide
Radio (Sea Dogs): News 88.9 FM
Live Web Feed: Telus
Post-Game Coverage: Station Nation, Telegraph-Journal, Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine Hockey Journal
Live Coverage: Follow Station Nation on Twitter (www.twitter.com/station_nation) or follow the Live Blog on this site for live coverage of tonight’s game.
AFTER THE BUZZER
Game Two of the semifinal series between the Sea Dogs and Maineiacs is tomorrow night at 7:00 pm at Harbour Station.
Photo Credits: Marc Henwood/Station Nation, Marc Henwood/Station Nation, David Connell Web Album, La Nouvelle Union