SAINT JOHN – Tomas Jurco saved his best for last on Thursday night at Harbour Station.
The Detroit Red Wings prospect tipped a Nathan Beaulieu shot past Moncton Wildcats goaltender Roman Will with 8.5 seconds remaining in regulation time, giving the Saint John Sea Dogs a thrilling 1-0 victory over their provincial rivals.
Jurco had several scoring chances throughout the contest, firing seven shots on goal. Danick Guathier led the Dogs with eight shots. Saint John outshot Moncton 46-20 on Thursday night, including a 34-9 advantage through 40 minutes.
Roman Will was the story of this one. The Wildcats ‘tender made several terrific stops throughout the game to give his team a chance. The late-game goal had to be heartbreaking.
Will didn’t get a whole lot of support from his teammates. The Wildcats fired just 20 shots on goal with 11 of those coming in the third period. Moncton also went 0-for-6 on the power play.
Sea Dogs goaltender Mathieu Corbeil had to be sharp to pick up the win. Although he wasn’t tested a lot, he did make several quality saves, including a big one in the third period. The netminder deserves some credit as these are challenging games to play in.
This was the second straight low scoring Moncton/Saint John. On January 2 at the Station, the Dogs needed a shootout to beat the ‘Cats 2-1. Both regulation time goals came in the third period.
Saint John has now won four straight games heading into Sunday’s contest against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. They improved their record to 35-13-0-2, putting them in a tie once again with the Shawinigan Cataractes for first-place in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Moncton went to the power play at 4:13. While shorthanded, Tomas Jurco was robbed by Roman Will in the slot. The ‘Cats didn’t get much going on the power play.
Ryan Penny let a shot go from the dot while off balance a few moments later but was stopped by Roman Will. Saint John went to the man advantage at 11:12. Pierre Durepos hit the post and the Dogs had some okay pressure on but could not connect.
A little later on, Jurco made some big time spin move to get around a Moncton defenseman. He got a shot off but Will made the save.
At 16:20, Ian Saab and Patrick Delisle-Houde both headed off. During the four-on-four play, Jurco had another good chance, blasting the puck on goal from the high slot but couldn’t beat Will once again.
Then at 18:06, there was some controversy. After a scrum in the corner, Ryan Tesink was given a game misconduct for abuse of officials and given two penalties – one for roughing and another for unsportsmanlike conduct. That would put Moncton to the man advantage for four minutes.
Shots in the opening frame were 18-6 in favour of Saint John.
On the power play that carried over into the second period, Allain Saulnier was robbed by Mathieu Corbeil down low. That would be the best chance Moncton would have on the man advantage.
Saint John headed to a five-on-three man advantage at 4:08 with Devon MacAusland and Patrick Downe both in the sin bin. On the power play, the Dogs got lots of shots on goal but just couldn’t beat Will who was putting on a clinic in the ‘Cats crease.
A little later on back at even strength, the Sea Dogs entered the zone on a three-on-two with Stephen MacAulay firing a shot off Will’s blocker. Then a few minutes later at the other end, Moncton had a bit of pressure on but couldn’t beat Corbeil.
Moncton headed to the power play at 14:09. While shorthanded, Danick Gauthier had a break and made a move to his forehand but Will robbed him of a goal.
Saint John had one final man advantage in the frame as Penny headed off at 17:35 for high sticking. Charles Roussel had a pretty good chance but Will made the glove stop. The Dogs once again had some good pressure on but could not find the back of the cage.
Shots were 16-3 in favour of the Dogs in the second stanza.
Some four-on-four action took place at 4:06. During that span, Corbeil made a few good saves to keep it scoreless.
Saint John then took back-to-back penalties as Saab headed off at 6:14 and Beaulieu at 8:12. With Beaulieu in the box, Will made a nice save on Gauthier who had yet another shorthanded chance.
Later on, Corbeil made his best save of the night as he stretched out to rob Christophe Lalonde in front of the net.
Saint John was awarded a power play at 17:34, giving the Sea Dogs a huge opportunity to try and get a late goal. But they couldn’t get much going and the game remained scoreless.
Finally, with 8.5 seconds left on the clock, Beaulieu fired a shot from the point that was tipped in beautifully by Jurco to give Saint John a 1-0 lead and victory.
Shots in the final frame were 12-11 Saint John.
Moncton went 0-for-6 on the power play while Saint John went 0-for-5.
NOTES: See Sea Dogs Postscript tomorrow on SN.
Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation