MONCTON – They were only able to dress 15 players, but the Moncton Wildcats managed to take the No. 2 ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League all the way to a shootout on Saturday night in the Hub City.
The Wildcats led for much of the evening but could not hold on, falling 3-2 in a breakaway contest to the Saint John Sea Dogs in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
Moncton owned the first period, outshooting Saint John 18-11 thanks in most part to five Saint John penalties. But as the game went on, the Sea Dogs began to get more and more shots on goal, eventually outshooting the Wildcats 41-9 in the final two periods and overtime combined. Goaltender Roman Will was once again the Wildcats’ hero, keeping Moncton in the game and earning them a point.
Saint John was pretty terrible in the first period but got better as the game went on. Although their play improved, they certainly didn’t play their best – especially considering Moncton only had 15 skaters.
Although it wasn’t the Sea Dogs best win of the season, it was a big one. They are now one-point ahead of the Shawinigan Cataractes for first place in the league and have a game in-hand. The Cataractes lost 3-2 in Halifax this afternoon.
The win was also Saint John’s 13th straight, tying them with the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans for the longest streak this season in the CHL.
The Sea Dogs had goals from Charles Roussel and Stanislav Galiev in regulation and Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Jurco in the shootout. Charlie Coyle had two assists. Mathieu Corbeil made 25 saves for the win.
Moncton’s goals came from Scott Trask and Marek Hrivik. Alex Saulnier and Hrivik were both stopped in the shootout. Will was incredible in the Wildcats goal again, making 50 saves in the loss.
Saint John and Moncton meet again on Tuesday night at Harbour Station.
Just 1:03 into the opening frame, Maxime Villemaire was given a four-minute penalty for high sticking. And at 1:25, Scott Trask opened the scoring, giving the depleted Wildcats a 1-0 lead. They had some good pressure during the man advantage but could not connect.
At 3:26, the Wildcats headed back to the power play as Roussel headed off. Marek Hrivik had a break during the man advantage but was denied by Saint John goaltender Mathieu Corbeil. The ‘Cats had good pressure on during the power play but could not extend their lead.
Back at even strength, Saint John had some of their rare scoring chances in the period. Jonathan Huberdeau performed a wrap-around with Roman Will out of position but could not slide it in. A few moments later, Will robbed Villemaire in close and then stopped the rebound as well. Then, Will stopped Stanislav Galiev with a huge pad save.
Moncton headed back to the power play at 13:55 as Galiev ran into Will. Devon MacAusalnd was stopped nicely Corbeil just before Tomas Jurco headed to the box at 14:56. During the five-on-three power play, Hrivik nailed the crossbar.
In the dying seconds of the period, Danick Gauthier’s shot was covered by Will. Gauthier drew a penalty on the play, giving the Sea Dogs a power play to kick off the second period.
Shots in the opening stanza were 18-11 in favour of Moncton.
Saint John opened the second period on a power play and then headed to a five-on-three advantage just 23 seconds in. Zack Phillips had a great chance during the man advantage, turning the red light on with a shot that hit the side of the goal. Then at 54-second mark, Charles Roussel blasted a point shot that got by Will to make it a 1-1 game.
Back at even strength, Coyle went into power forward mode and came down the wing, getting a shot on goal that was padded away by Will.
Moncton retook the lead at 6:33. Hrivik walked around Nathan Beaulieu and then made a great move to cut through the blue paint and slide it into the goal to give the ‘Cats a 2-1 advantage.
Huberdeau headed to the box at 10:04 for goaltender interference, a call the Sea Dogs were not happy about. While shorthanded, Jurco went in alone and made a deke but sent it wide.
Then back at even strength, Aidan Kelly and Jason Cameron had a chance in front but they could not connect.
At 15:55, Alex Emond was given a four-minute penalty after high sticking Ryan Tesink in the face. On the power play, Saint John had a few shots but very few legit scoring opportunities. It wasn’t pretty.
Shots were 15-5 in favour of the visitors in the middle frame.
Early in the third, Jurco sent a shot off the post from the dot. Then Phillips had a decent chance at the side of the net but was stopped.
Danick Gauther headed to the box at 6:54. On the power play, Alex Saulnier had a wide open net but the puck bounced over his stick. That would be Moncton’s best scoring chance.
Saint John went to the man advantage at 10:09 but had nothing to show for it.
At 13:14, Villemaire had a great chance but couldn’t beat Will. On the same play, he was called for a dive, sending Moncton to the power play. But that quickly ended as Devon MacAusland headed to the box at 13:49. When Saint John went to the man advantage, they would tie it up. At 15:26, Coyle’s cross ice feed found Galiev who ripped it into an open cage to make it a 2-2 game.
Roussel had a good chance later on but could not beat Will the wall.
Shots in the third were 20-3 Sea Dogs.
Saint John had most of the pressure in overtime, outshooting Moncton 6-1. Jurco had the Sea Dogs’ best chance as he was just missed the top corner with a backhand shot.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Jurco both scored in the shootout. Allain Saulnier and Marek Hrivik didn’t. Sea Dogs win 3-2.
Saint John went 2-for-6 on the power play while Moncton went 1-for-8.
MISSING IN ACTION: Forward Devon Oliver-Dares is still out with a broken collarbone. Grant West and Spencer MacDonald were both healthy scratches.
STREAK: Saint John extended their winning streak to 13 games with the win. They have not lost since January 12.
NOTES: Roman Will is a beast… during the second intermission, the ice was flooded with Timbit minor hockey players… the attendance was 6.685… Marek Hrivik had 11 of Moncton’s 27 shots…Jason Seed, Ian Saab and Oliver Cooper were the only Sea Dogs without shots.
NEXT GAME: The Sea Dogs take on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles tomorrow afternoon at 3pm at Harbour Station.
Photo Credit: Marc Grandmaison
Photo Credit: Marc Grandmaison