Thursday, April 28, 2011


FINAL: Sea Dogs 6, MAINEiacs 5

LEWISTON, Me. – A wild Game Four ended a wild semifinal playoff series against the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Lewiston Maineiacs.

Five minutes into the game and many were already making plans for a Game Five on Friday. But the Sea Dogs pulled off a huge comeback to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League match 6-5 and earn a 4-0 sweep in the series.

The victory means that, for the second straight season, the club advances to the President’s Cup Final where they will play the winner of the Quebec - Gatineau series.

It was a game that had a bit of everything. Just 5:05 into regulation there were three goals, a goaltending change, and a broken pane of glass. But Saint John battled back and finally tied it in the second period before pulling ahead in the third.

Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu, Scott Oke, Jonathan Huberdeau, Eric Gelinas, and Stephen MacAulay all scored for winners. Mike Thomas had two assists. Mathieu Corbeil, who was unbelievable in Games Two and Three, was pulled after allowing two goals on two shots. His replacement, Jacob DeSerres, made some big stops to keep the Dogs in the game. He made 25 saves overall on the night.

Other than the terrible start, Saint John played a decent game. They certainly didn’t panic after going down by three. If there is anything we’ve come to realize about the 2010-11 edition of the Sea Dogs, it’s that a three-goal lead with 55 minutes left is not too big of a mountain to climb.

Lewiston was expected to come out flying in the opening frame - and they did just that. After all, it was their season on the line. But the Maineiacs, like in the first three games, just couldn’t keep the goals pumping like Saint John and kept giving them opportunities. They had plenty of chances throughout the game but just couldn’t cash in enough.

Lewiston had goals from Cameron Critchlow, Alex Zafiris, Olivier Dame-Malka, Stefan Fournier, and Pierre-Olivier Morin. Goaltender Andrey Makarov, making his first start of the post-season, allowed six goals on 31 shots.

Just 1:21 in, Mathieu Corbeil went behind the net to grab the puck but it got away from him and went out in front. Corbeil dove but Cameron Critchlow was too fast and slid it past him to give Lewiston an early 1-0 lead.

Not long after, Samuel Carrier shot the puck from just inside the line. Alex Zafiris tipped it down low and past Corbeil to give the Maineiacs a 2-0 edge on just two shots. That would be the end of Corbeil’s night and was replaced by Jacob DeSerres.

At 3:12, Kevin Gagne let a point shot go that shattered the glass behind the Maineiacs’ goal. That caused a roughly 12-minute delay.

But the delay didn’t hurt the Maineiacs as Olivier Dame-Malka fired a wrist shot from the point that beat DeSerres to make it a 3-0 game and officially make it a brutal start for Saint John.

The Dogs then started to get some things going as Tomas Jurco centered it for Steven Anthony in front but was stopped by the pad of Andrey Makarov.

Some four-on-four action took place at 7:03 following some rough stuff. At 7:07, A faceoff win by Zack Phillips and the departure of the Lewiston defense around him gave him an open lane to beat Makarov and cut the Maineiacs’ lead to 3-1.

The Sea Dogs then had unlimited chances. The puck was loose in front for Jonathan Huberdeau but Makarov made a big stop. Then, the puck was centered again, this time to Jurco, but he couldn’t get a hold of it.

Saint John kept the pressure on moments later as Anthony had the puck and spun to get it on goal but was denied. Phillips tried to create something after that but the puck was taken from him and cleared away.

Lewiston went to the power play at 16:45 but nothing happened.

When Alexnadre Beauregard stepped out of the box, he skated hard to the side boards where Makarov came out the play it. The puck was nearly centered to a Saint John player but the danger was averted.

Shots in the first period were 14-10 Saint John.

Right off the bat Makarov made a huge glove stop on Phillips.

Nathan Beaulieu made it a 3-2 game at 1:28 on a power play. Beaulieu blasted a point shot that beat Makarov to put the Dogs within one.

But Lewiston would respond at 3:44. A turnover allowed the puck to come to Stefan Fournier in front and make it a 4-2 Maineiacs lead just like that.

But Saint John got back within one at 5:22. The puck came out from behind the goal line and into some traffic in front. The disc came loose to Scott Oke at the side and Makarov was down, allowing Oke to go upstairs and make it a 4-3 contest.

Just after the goal, the insanity continued as Francis Beauvillier came down the wing and hit the post.

Saint John went to the power play as Samuel Finn was called for slashing Stanislav Galiev at 5:54. The Dogs had some pressure but could not tie it up.

When the power play ended, a cross ice pass found Kirill Kabanov along the boards who one-timed the puck. But DeSerres made a nice cross crease stop to keep Saint John in the game.

Saint John went back to the man advantage at 8:49 as Kabanov headed off. Huberdeau had the best chance as he performed a wraparound move but couldn’t get a great shot off.

Some rough stuff ensued at 10:55. It looked like penalties would be even but then Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant was given a bench minor for yelling at the officials or something, giving Lewiston a power play. But nothing would come out of it and the score remained the same.

At 13:39, Huberdeau sprung on a breakaway. He went in alone and made a move to his forehand and beat Makarov, tying the match at 4-4.

Finn was called for cross checking Huberdeau after the goal, giving the Dogs a power play. Simon Despres sent a great pass to Mike Thomas at the dot but he sent it just wide through some traffic.

Danick Gauthier was called for high sticking at 14:57. Lewiston had some decent pressure on the man advantage but just couldn’t score.

Some more rough stuff at 15:01 created some four-on-four play. The puck was loose in front of DeSerres in the Saint John zone but he made a nice play to deflect it away.

Shots in the middle stanza were 12-11 in favour of the visitors.

The Maineiacs had a power play to open the third period as Beaulieu was called for roughing at the end of the second period. But Lewiston couldn’t get anything going on the man advantage once again and failed to pull ahead.

Anthony was awarded a penalty shot at 2:01 after getting hooked up on a breakaway. But the Vancouver Canucks prospect was denied by the pad of Makarov and the game remained tied.

Ian Saab headed to the box at 2:55 and it would be a costly penalty. At 4:35, Gelinas blasted a bomb from the top of the circle that flew past Makarov to put the Sea Dogs in front for the first time.

Lewiston started to gain some momentum shortly after the goal. At 5:47, Pierre-Olivier Morin tipped the puck through the legs of a gliding DeSerres to make it a 5-5 affair.

Saint John had plenty of chances following the goal. Phillips was at the side of the net but shot it into the glove of the Maineiacs’ ‘tender. Then, Gauthier centered it for Mike Thomas but didn’t get a shot off. A few minutes later, Beaulieu let a big shot go from that produced a rebound for Huberdeau but he was stopped. Then, Lewiston had an opportunity following a wraparound attempt but it went wide.

At 17:08, a point shot went through some traffic and was in the crease area. Stephen MacAulay, the hero of Game One, was there to whack it in and give the Dogs a late 6-5 lead.

The Maineiacs pulled their goaltender late and had some pressure on but couldn’t get any great scoring chances. That would be it as the Dogs went on to win the game and the series.

Shots in the final stanza were 11-9 Saint John.

NOTES: See Sea Dogs Postscript tomorrow on SN.

NEXT GAME: Game One of the President’s Cup Final will likely be Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm at Harbour Station.

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