Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sea Dogs And Cataractes Meet Again

It’s a game two teams and two cities have been waiting over a year for.

Tonight in Shawinigan, the host Cataractes will battle the Saint John Sea Dogs in the final round-robin game of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. A Saint John win propels them into the semi-final on Friday. A Shawinigan win puts them into Sunday’s Championship Final. The loser of this evening’s contest will be forced to play in tomorrow’s tie-breaker game and will have the toughest road to the Cup.

Ever since Shawinigan was awarded the Memorial Cup over Saint John in April of 2011, these two teams have been linked. Ever since that decision there has been a war of words off the ice and wars on the ice.

Saint John and Shawinigan met four times in the regular season with each game being highly anticipated and highly intense. They battled all year for first overall in the standings. It appeared these two were destined to meet in the President’s Cup Final until the Cataractes were suddenly eliminated in the second round. As a result the Sea Dogs, although given a tough test by Chicoutimi in the third round, cruised to their second straight league title.

Now, for the first time since March 11, they meet for the most important game of the season for both teams. There will be a packed house at Centre Bionest and there will be a national television audience watching as well. The winner gets the express pass and the loser gets the tough road.

The regular season series was split between the two clubs with each team picking up a home and road win. Both of Saint John’s wins were of the one-goal variety. Here’s a look back at all four meetings.

December 3, 2011 at Saint John – Cataractes 2, Sea Dogs 3 (OT)

The Sea Dogs won the first match of the year between these two. Maxim Le Sieur and Michael Chaput scored to give Shawinigan a 2-0 lead before the halfway mark of the game. But Oliver Cooper made it a 2-1 game before the second period ended and then Zack Phillips tied it early in the third. In overtime, Nathan Beaulieu netted the winner on a power play at 1:57.

Gabriel Girard made 29 saves in the loss while Mathieu Corbeil made 37 in the win.

This game was before the QMJHL trade deadline, so Shawinigan’s roster looks a bit stronger now. Saint John was also without Jonathan Huberdeau, Stanislav Galiev, and Ryan Tesink because of injuries.

January 12, 2012 at Saint John – Cataractes 4, Sea Dogs 1

Saint John went 0/6 on the power play in one of Saint John’s few home loses of the season. Peter Sakaris had two goals while Michael Chaput and Michael Bournival had the other Shawinigan makers. Bournival and Anton Zlobin each had two assists. Charlie Coyle, making his debut, had the lone Saint John marker.

Gabriel Girard made 29 saves for the win while Mathieu Corbeil made 22 in the loss.

Girard, Brandon Gormley, and Morgan Ellis were shutting things down in this game.

Late game fight between Dylan McGuigan and Jonathan Narbonne.

February 4, 2012 at Shawinigan – Sea Dogs 2, Cataractes 1

This was easily one of the most entertaining Sea Dogs games of the season. Maxime Le Sieur opened the scoring at 14:17 of the first. The goal would hold up until Charles Roussel tied it late in the second to make it 1-1 heading to intermission. Then the chaos began.

At 8:54 of the third, Jason Cameron nailed Kirill Kabanov. Cameron picked up a five-minute major, game misconduct, and a four-game suspension.

Then at 16:33, Jonathan Racine smoked Jonathan Huberdeau. Racine received a five-minute major, match penalty, and a five-game suspension (four games plus an automatic one-game).

Huberdeau would then score the game winner on that power play with 30 seconds left in the game.

Nathan Beaulieu had two assists in the game. Mathieu Corbeil was named first star after making 37 saves in the win. Gabriel Girard made 23 stops in the loss.

There were also two fights in the game. Grant West took on Dillon Donnelly early in the first.

Ian Saab vs Vincent Arseneau early in the third.

This is also the game where Brandon Gormley hurt his foot and had his neck cut by a skate.

March 11, 2012 – Sea Dogs 2, Cataractes 6

This game wasn’t pretty. The Sea Dogs opened the scoring but Shawinigan would then score three straight. After Jonathan Huberdeau scored in the second, the Cataractes led 4-2 after two. They added two more in the third to win 6-2. Shawinigan outshot Saint John 49-30.

Anton Zlobin had two goals while singles came from Jonathan Narbonne, Michael Chaput, Kirill Kabanov, and Michael Bournival. Zlobin also had three assists while Kabanov had two. Saint John goals came from Huberdeau and Stanislav Galiev.

Mathieu Corbeil was pulled after allowing five goals on 30 shots. Sebastien Auger allowed one goal on 14 shots in relief. Alex Dubeau made 28 saves in net for Shawinigan in the win.

Some other notes: Shawinigan had 18 shots in the second period and 19 in the third… Narbonne, Chaput, and Zlobin were each a +5… Saint John went 2/4 on the power play… Shawinigan went 0/7 on the man advantage… Nicolas Dutil was one of the referees… the Sea Dogs were without Tomas Jurco… the game started 30 minutes late due to a broken piece of glass.

There were a few fights in this one. Grant West dropped them against Mathieu Gagnon.

Zack Phillips (no, seriously) took on Peter Sakaris.

And Nathan Beaulieu against Mitchell Maynard.

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