Saturday, March 31, 2012

Drakkar Hoping For More Francoeur

SAINT JOHN – It’s probably safe to say the Baie-Comeau Drakkar currently have one of the stranger coaching setups in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

On March 13 – less than two weeks before the playoffs started – the Drakkar fired head coach Mario Pouliot. So, general manager Steve Ahern decided to take over the coaching duties for what was left of the regular season and playoffs.

Ahern and the Drakkar got some help though, adding Denis Francoeur behind the bench, a former head coach in Bathurst and Shawinigan. Baie-Comeau got immediate results in the playoffs, winning the first two games in Victoriaville. The success would continue.


Francoeur then told general manager Steve Ahern he couldn’t be behind the bench for Games 3 and 4 because of other work commitments with his hockey schools in the Shawinigan area, 700 kilometres from Baie-Comeau. (Francoeur was working as Ahern’s assistant GM prior to Pouliot’s firing and only agreed to take on the coaching duties on an emergency day-to-day basis.) 
But Ahern wouldn’t quit. He begged Francoeur to reconsider and finally persuaded him to fly to Baie-Comeau at the last minute to coach Games 3 and 4. The Drakkar rushed Francoeur to Baie-Comeau in a private plane at the end of his work day on Tuesday, getting him to the rink just in time for the warm-up. 
And clearly the extreme measures paid off because Francoeur and the Drakkar came through with two more big wins, eliminating a Tigres team that finished 31 points higher than them in the regular season.

According to Le Nouvelliste on Friday, Francoeur hopes to be in Saint John next weekend for the first two games of their series against the Sea Dogs because of the Easter holiday. After those two games though, it’s unclear if he’ll be able run the Drakkar bench due to commitments at his hockey school.

Games three, four, and five (if needed) of the series will all be played in Baie-Comeau. This is the first time since 2006-07 that the Drakkar have made it past the first round so the Henry Leonard Centre should be rocking. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Second Round Schedule Released


SAINT JOHN – The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has announced the schedule for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar/Saint John Sea Dogs second round playoff series.

The seven-game schedule is of the 2-3-2 variety. The Sea Dogs have home ice for this round and all other rounds, meaning they host the first two and, if necessary, the last games. Baie-Comeau will host the middle three.

Here’s the full schedule (all times Atlantic):

GAME ONE – Friday, April 6: 7:30 p.m. @ Harbour Station
GAME TWO – Saturday, April 7: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station
GAME THREE – Tuesday, April 10: 8:30 p.m. @ Centre Henry-Leonard
GAME FOUR – Wednesday, April 11: 8:30 p.m. @ Centre Henry-Leonard
*GAME FIVE – Friday, April 13: 8:30 p.m. @ Centre Henry-Leonard
*GAME SIX – Monday, April 16: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station
*GAME SEVEN – Tuesday, April 17: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station
*If Necessary

Tickets to the first two games at Harbour Station are now on sale.

Saint John steamrolled the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in a four-game sweep. Baie-Comeau, who finished 13th overall in the league, was the surprise of the first round as they swept the No. 4 seeded Victoriaville Tigres.

The Drakkar shut down the Tigres who were the top scoring team in the regular season. The Sea Dogs finished second in goals which sets this up as an interesting second round series.

Only one first round series is not completed yet. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are down 3-1 in their series against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens entering Game 5 tonight. 

Never a Good Sign

By Andrew McGilligan
SN Staff

Here’s a rule for hockey teams: if you’re resorting to gimmicks, you’re done.

The Sea Dogs will take on the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in Round 2 of the QMJHL playoffs, after the Drakkar completed a surprising sweep of the Victoriaville Tigres.

When did people realize this series was over? I would suggest before the opening faceoff of Game 3 when the Tigres decided to come out and stretch in the Mighty Ducks flying V formation in the warm up.

Baie-Comeau players responded by simply staring them down at centre ice. I’m not sure what the V was supposed to do, but I’m sure it did not have the desired effect – the Drakkar won 8-2 and took a stranglehold 3-0 lead in the series, winning the series the following night in overtime.

If you’re resorting to warm up gimmicks to get pumped for a game, then you’ve already lost. Being down 2-0 should have been enough motivation, no one should have even been thinking about how to uniformly stretch.

If you’re thinking about that type of thing and not what you have to do to win, then the game is over before it starts.

The Titan did this a few years ago, stretching in the shape of a T before some playoff games with the Sea Dogs – they lost the series in six games.

To recap, in the playoffs winning should be top of mind, formation stretching should not even occur to you.

Here’s the video:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bussieres Suspended

The Baie-Comeau Drakkar are already off to a rough start in their second round series against the Saint John Sea Dogs.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced today that Drakkar forward Raphael Bussieres has been suspended an additional two games for a hit that took place on March 27 in Game 3 of their series against the Victoriaville Tigres. Bussieres was suspended "until further notice" soon after and missed Game 4, a game that clinched Baie-Comeau a stunning series sweep of the Tigres.

Here’s the hit, courtesy of HockeyProspects.com.


The rationale for the suspension, as per the QMJHLwebsite:
The opponent:
Coming out of his zone and skating toward centre ice.
Passed the puck to a teammate next to the boards.
Was injured on the play. 
The player at fault:
Pivoted, took a stride toward his opponent and hit him on the head while he was in a vulnerable position.
Simultaneously hit the player’s body and head.
Propelled himself upward on the impact.

Bussieres finished fourth in Drakkar scoring in the regular season, recording 21 goals and 23 assists in 56 games. The Drakkar will miss him when the series begins next Friday night at Harbour Station. 

POSTSCRIPT: Sea Dogs 5, Eagles 1

A collection of recaps from last night’s 5-1 Saint John Sea Dogs victory over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles…

Our recap. Five different Sea Dogs scored as Saint John defeated Cape Breton 5-1, sweeping the first round Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff series 4-0. It is the second year in a row that Saint John swept away Cape Breton in round one.

The Cape Breton Post’s recap. But back-to-back tallies from Tomas Jurco and Stanislav Galiev 11 seconds apart early in the third broke the game open for the defending Memorial Cup champs.

News 88.9’s recap. Featuring Tim Roszell’s goal calls.

SaintJohnSeaDogs.com’s recap. Mathieu Corbeil made 33 saves in his busiest night of work so far in the President’s Cup playoffs.

CapeBretonEagles.com’s recap. Tomas Jurco led the way for Saint John as he had a goal and two assists in the game while Aidan Kelly, Charlie Coyle and Stanislav Galiev each chipped in with a goal for the Sea Dogs.

SN Live Blog replay. It’s finally over.

MISSING IN ACTION: Dylan McGuigan (healthy), Spencer MacDonald (bicep), Devon Oliver-Dares (collarbone), Maxime Villemaire (knee), and Ian Saab (suspension) were all scratched for Saint John.

Grant West, who missed Tuesday’s game with flu symptoms, was back in.

SWEEP: For the second year in a row, the Sea Dogs ended the Screaming Eagles’ season with a four-game sweep in the first round. Saint John outscored the Eagles 34-8 in this year’s series and 26-2 in last year’s.

It’s the third time in four years that a Saint John/Cape Breton first round series ended in a sweep.

Dogs Will Face Drakkar In Round 2

Nobody saw this coming.

After completing a stunning sweep of the Victoriaville Tigres on Wednesday night, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar will now have the pleasure of facing the Saint John Sea Dogs in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Drakkar, seeded 13th out of the 16, swept the Tigres, who were seeded 4th and heavily favoured, in four straight games which includes Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime victory at the Henry Leonard Centre to clinch the series.

Baie-Comeau finished 13th overall in the league with 63 points. The Tigres finished 4th overall 94 points. This is a huge upset. The fact that the Drakkar swept the best-of-seven series makes it an even more epic upset.

Many had the Drakkar listed as a contending team before the season started but they never lived up to expectations. They fired their head coach just a couple of weeks ago and that, apparently, has sparked them. General manager Steve Ahern is the temporary bench boss.

The Tigres had the third best record in the league this season, third most wins, and led the league in goal scoring with 311.

Saint John had a 3-0 record against Baie-Comeau in the regular season.

The two teams have never faced each other in the playoffs.

Game 1 of the second round series takes place next Friday, April 6 at 7:30pm at Harbour Station and Game 2 takes place the following day at 7pm. Tickets to both games go on sale this morning at 10am. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RECAP: Turn Out The Lights. Dogs Win 5-1.

FINAL: Saint John 5, Cape Breton 1


SYDNEY, NS – The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles made it interesting but were just not able to contain the Saint John Sea Dogs on Wednesday night at Centre 200.

Five different Sea Dogs scored as Saint John defeated Cape Breton 5-1, sweeping the first round Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff series 4-0. It is the second year in a row that Saint John swept away Cape Breton in round one.

Aidan Kelly, Charlie Coyle, Tomas Jurco, Stanislav Galiev, and Danick Gauthier all scored for the Sea Dogs. Jurco, Galiev, and Zack Phillips each had two assists. Mathieu Corbeil put in a real solid performance in goal, making 33 saves in the win.

Corbeil had to be good as the Screaming Eagles hung around until the third period. Cape Breton opened the scoring and the game was tied 1-1 after one. The Eagles then outshot Saint John 13-12 in the middle frame but trailed 2-1. Despite their best efforts, the home side just couldn’t contain the Dogs in the third period as Jurco and Galiev scored 11 seconds apart to clinch it.

The Eagles, who seemed to improve as the series went on, had their lone goal come from Dany Potvin. Philippe Trudeau allowed five goals on 31 shots in the season ending loss.

Saint John dominated much of this series – but, as seen tonight, not all of it. The Dogs outscored Cape Breton 34-8 in the four games. Charlie Coyle had nine of Saint John’s goals.

Saint John will play the lowest seeded team that moves on to the second round. It’s looking like that team will be Baie-Comeau but we shall see.

Game 1 of the second round in next Friday, April 6 at Harbour Station with Game 2 scheduled for the following evening. Tickets to both games go on sale tomorrow morning at 10am.

LIVE BLOG: Sea Dogs vs Screaming Eagles

SYDNEY, NS – Game 4 of the Saint John/Cape Breton first round playoff series goes down tonight at Centre 200. The Sea Dogs lead the series 3-0 and have scored an unlimited amount goals. Follow along for updates.
 

PLAYOFF GAMEDAY 4: at Cape Breton

GAMEDAY
Round 1, Game 4
Saint John Sea Dogs vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Tonight at 7pm
Radio: News 88.9 | Webcast: Telus | TV: None | Live Blog: SN
Centre 200 – Sydney, NS


SERIES STATUS
Saint John leads the best-of-seven first round playoff series 3-0.

PREVIEW
SYDNEY, NS – It’s do or die tonight for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The Screaming Eagles find themselves down 3-0 in their first round series against the Saint John Sea Dogs entering tonight’s Game 4. This evening’s match begins at 7pm at Centre 200.

If the Sea Dogs win this evening, they will move on to the quart-finals. It would be the second straight season that Saint John swept Cape Breton in the first round.

Saint John defeated the Eagles 8-2 last night in Sydney. Charlie Coyle and Danick Gauthier each scored twice while solo markers came from Tomas Jurco, Jonathan Huberdeau, Kevin Gagne, and Ryan Tesink. William Carrier and Kyle Farrell each had goals for Cape Breton.

The Dogs basically won the game in the first five minutes last night, scoring four times and led 4-0 after one. Philippe Trudeau was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots.

There wasn’t a whole lot of nastines last night as the teams combined for just three penalties –all minor infractions. Saint John had just one power play in the game which they scored on.

With his two goals last night, Charlie Coyle still leads the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 12 points – eight goals and four assists – in three post-season games. Zack Phillips, who had two assists yesterday, is third in league playoff scoring with 10 points.

William Carrier has been one of the few bright spots for Cape Breton this series. The Dogs have outscored the Eagles 29-7 but Carrier has managed to register three goals and three assists.

Only one team – the Moncton Wildcats – have been eliminated from the playoffs so far. The Halifax Mooseheads finished off a sweep of the ‘Cats last night.

If the Eagles manage to win tonight, Game 5 would be on Friday night at Harbour Station.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

RECAP: Pushed To The Brink. Dogs Win 8-2

FINAL: Saint John 8, Cape Breton 2

SYDNEY, NS – The Saint John Sea Dogs are a win away from eliminating the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The Sea Dogs took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series this evening, defeating the Screaming Eagles 8-2 in front of a sparse crowd at Centre 200 in Sydney.

It was another fairly dominant game by the Sea Dogs who have now outscored Cape Breton 29-7 in three games. The Eagles did produce a solid amount of shots, throwing 29 pucks at Sea Dogs goaltender Mathieu Corbeil.

Charlie Coyle had another big night, registering two goals to give him eight in three playoff games. Danick Gauthier also had two goals while singles came from Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Jurco, Ryan Tesink, and Kevin Gagne. Jurco added three assists. Corbeil made 27 saves for the win.

Saint John couldn’t have started the game much better, scoring five goals in the first 5:01 of the game.

William Carrier and Kyle Farrell had goals from Cape Breton. Philippe Trudeau was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots. William Carrier allowed five on 32 shots in relief.

Game 4 of the series is tomorrow night at Centre 200. The Eagles will need a miracle if they want to win this series.

LIVE BLOG: Sea Dogs vs Screaming Eagles

SYDNEY, NS – Ah yes, the SN Live Blog is back for the long haul beginning tonight. Join us we bring you live coverage of tonight’s Sea Dog/Eagles Game 3.
 

Coyle Named CHL Player Of The Week


Saint John Sea Dogs forward Charlie Coyle has been named the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Week for the first week of the 2012 CHL Playoffs ending March 25.

“Coyle made his CHL playoff debut with two five-point games last week to lead the top ranked Sea Dogs to a 2-0 first round series lead over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles,” states a CHL release. “In both games Coyle recorded a hat-trick and added two assists as first star of the contest including a 13-4 win on Friday and an 8-1 win on Saturday, both times tying a franchise record for most points in a single playoff game.”

Coyle was awarded six points on Friday originally but had an assist stripped of him by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League yesterday upon further review.

His 10 points place him first in QMJHL playoff scoring. He is averaging five points per game and 1.67 points per period. Not bad, not bad at all.

While Coyle was busy racking up points for the Sea Dogs this past weekend, his former team, the Boston University Terriers, saw their season come to an end at NCAA Regionals.

Jonathan Huberdeau is the only other Sea Dog to be named a CHL Player of the Week this season.

Coyle and the Dogs look to take a 3-0 series lead tonight in Cape Breton against the Screaming Eagles. 

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

PLAYOFF GAMEDAY 3: at Cape Breton

GAMEDAY
Round 1, Game 3
Saint John Sea Dogs vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Tonight at 7pm
Radio: News 88.9 | Webcast: Telus | TV: None | Live Blog: SN
Centre 200 – Sydney, NS


SERIES STATUS
Saint John leads the best-of-seven first round playoff series 2-0.

PREVIEW
SYDNEY, NS – A win tonight for the Saint John Sea Dogs and this series is basically over.

The Saint John Sea Dogs can take a 3-0 series lead tonight in Sydney when they face the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at 7pm. Game 4 is tomorrow at Centre 200.

Saint John won Games 1 and 2 at Harbour Station rather easily. On Friday, a second period outburst gave them a 13-4 victory. Then on Saturday, the Dogs won easily again, defeating the Eagles 8-1.

Charlie Coyle leads the way for the Sea Dogs, registering six goals and four assists in the first two games. He was credited with another assist in Game 1 but that was removed by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League yesterday upon further review. He recorded at hat trick and two assists in both games.

Zack Phillips is also off to a hot start with eight points. Stanislav Galiev has seven.

William Carrier has been Cape Breton’s best performer, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the first two games.

Friday’s game featured a few fights and Saturday’s game also had a bit of bad blood. These two teams have now played four straight games against each other going back to the regular season. Will things get nastier as the series heads to Cape Breton? We'll find out tonight.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Definition Of A Power Forward

By Andrew McGilligan
SN Staff

As Canadians we’ve all watched far too much hockey.

We’ve all been witness to countless great moments and plays that will be burned into our mind for years to come.

I witnessed one of those moments on Friday night sitting on my couch. I was watching Sportsnet’s coverage of Game 1 between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

It was the second period when Dogs forward Charlie Coyle put his stamp on the game. With a goal already in the period, Coyle knocked down the same Cape Breton defenceman twice before heading to the front of the net, scoring his second goal – all in a span of about 10 seconds.

The play made me laugh out loud, not in a mocking way towards the Screaming Eagles, but in a “how foolish was that sequence,” kind of way.

In those few seconds, Coyle was the personification of a power forward. If you looked up the term in the hockey dictionary – provided it was online and had imbedded video – that play would run as an example.

Sea Dogs play-by-play man Tim Roszell said Coyle`s marker might be one of the best goals he`s seen live and he`s seen quite a few of them.

At this stage in his career, Coyle is playing the position to a tee. He’s big, strong and knows it. When you watch him play, there’s no wasted movement. He goes north-south very well and takes his game to the front of the net.

He uses his body effectively to either shield the puck from opponents or to keep defenders at bay when he’s parked in front of the cage. Let’s not forget he doesn’t mind throwing his weight around. On the double-hit goal, the first of the two checks looked like Coyle merely bumped the defender, but it sent the Screaming Eagle player to the ground none the less.

Who knows how he will emerge as a pro player, but one thing in Coyle’s favour is he seems to get it – it being the type of player he is. Too often guys get caught, especially at the junior level, trying to show off their skill by attempting to make the jaw-dropping play rather than the right one.

Coyle doesn’t seem to be afflicted with this problem, at least not on my viewings, rather he knows the strengths of his game and plays to them.

If you want more proof, look at the first two games of his Quebec League playoff career. Back-to-back hat tricks as well as five assists for 11 points in two games.

Those are video game numbers and that’s no laughing matter for Sea Dogs opponents.

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

McGill Wins First CIS Title

FREDERICTON – Former Sea Dog Alexandre Picard-Hooper setup Evan Vossen at the six-minute mark of overtime to give the McGill Redmen their first CIS National Championship in school history last night in Fredericton.

Vossen’s goal gave the Redmen a 4-3 victory over the Western Mustangs to end a solid four days of Canadian Interuniveristy Sport hockey at the Aitken Centre.

The Mustangs opened the scoring in the first period but the Remen would tie it up to make it a 1-1 affair after one. McGill then took a 3-2 lead in the second, setting up an entertaining third period.

At 12:46 of the third, former Chicoutimi Sagueneen Francis Verreault-Paul absolutely steamrolled Western goaltender Josh Unice. Verreault-Paul was given a five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct, giving the Mustangs a huge opportunity. Western would indeed tie it at 14:18 to send the match into OT.

With four minutes left in overtime, Vossen scored the University Cup clinching goal to give one of the oldest teams on the planet their first CIS title.

Picard-Hooper was named to the tournament all-star team. He led the tourney in scoring with one goal and five assists.

McGill also features the legendary Hugo Laporte. There was a scary moment in the game when Laporte took a puck square in the face but he would stay in the game. He was seen sporting a big bandage when the match ended.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

University Cup Final Tonight

FREDERICTON – It’s been quite a few days at the University Cup here in Fredericton. On Thursday, it was unbelievably hot and the hometown UNB Varsity Reds were the favourites to win. Now on the final day, the Reds have already been eliminated and it’s snowing a bit.

At tonight's championship game, the Western Mustangs will take on the McGill Redmen at 8pm at the Aitken Centre. The game can be seen on Sportsnet.

McGill advanced to the final despite losing 4-3 to Saskatchewan yesterday. Former Sea Dog Alexandre Picard-Hooper had two assists in that game. 

Western advanced to the final after defeating UNB 3-2 last night. The Mustangs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, stunning a packed AUC. UNB came up one-goal shy thanks to a two-goal outburst in the third. The atmosphere was so unreal that fans literally smashed a piece of glass behind the Western bench after UNB’s first goal. Former Sea Dog Travis Fullerton made 21 saves in the loss.

The McGill Redmen are one the oldest hockey teams on the planet, playing their first organized game in 1877. According the University Cup program, McGill has won 32 hockey championships since that time but have never won a CIS title.

Western will be looking to win their second national title.

RECAP: Charlie's World. Dogs Win 8-1.

FINAL: Cape Breton 1, Saint John 8

SAINT JOHN – Charlie Coyle put on quite an encore performance on Saturday night at Harbour Station.

After scoring three goals and adding six assists in the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 13-4 victory over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday night, Coyle led the Dogs to an 8-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday by registering another hat trick to go along with two assists.

The Minnesota Wild prospect now has six goals and five assists in two playoff games, leading Saint John to a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-seven first round series against Cape Breton.

Not surprisingly, the Sea Dogs dominated this game and outshot the Eagles 47-16. Saint John’s biggest offensive outburst came in the second period once again where they scored four times. They would also added three makers in the first and one in the third.

Stephen MacAulay scored twice while singles came from Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu, and Stanislav Galiev. Mathieu Corbeil made 15 saves for the win.

The line of Coyle, Phillips, and Galiev had a huge game, combining for five goals and nine assists. Phillips had three helpers while Galiev had four.

Cape Breton’s lone goal came from William Carrier late in the third period. Philippe Trudeau allowed eight goals on 47 shots.

Not much else to say. The Sea Dogs have outscored Cape Breton 21-5 in the first two games. Yikes.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Sydney. Should be a blast. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More Hall of Fame Stuff


FREDERICTON – This weekend at the gym across the road from the Aitken Centre, the Hockey Hall of Fame has had an exhibit setup with some local and university hockey historical stuff on display. There is also some random NHL stuff along with the Calder (pictured) and Masterton Trophies.

Lo and behold, some of the items on display are Sea Dogs related artefacts.

PLAYOFF GAMEDAY 2: vs Screaming Eagles

GAMEDAY
Round 1, Game 2
Saint John Sea Dogs vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Tonight at 7pm
Radio: News 88.9 | Webcast: Telus | TV: None | Live Blog: None
Harbour Station – Saint John, NB


SERIES STATUS
Saint John leads the first round best-of-seven playoff series 1-0.

PREVIEW
SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs will look to take a 2-0 series lead tonight against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Game time is 7pm at Harbour Station.

The Sea Dogs took Game 1 of the series last night, hammering the Screaming Eagles 13-4 to take a 1-0 series lead. The game was actually tied 2-2 entering the second period which is when the Sea Dogs exploded.

Despite outshooting Cape Breton 12-2 in the opening frame, it wasn’t the greatest period of the season for Saint John. The Eagles were certainly opportunistic with their chances, scoring on both of their two shots.

But, just like they have all year, Saint John exploded for eight goals in the middle stanza and outshot Cape Breton 27-7 in the 20-minute span. There were also three fights. Saint John would add three more goals in the third to win 13-4.

Charlie Coyle had three goals and three assists to set a Sea Dogs playoff record for points in a game. Danick Gauthier had a pair of goals while singles came from Jason Seed, Zack Phillips, Tomas Jurco, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aidan Kelly, Nathan Beaulieu, Charles Roussel and Stanislav Galiev. Coyle, Phillips, and Jurco each had three assists.

Mathieu Corbeil had an average performance, allowing four goals on 19 shots.

For Cape Breton, Bronson Beaten scored twice while Kyle Farrell and William Carrier added the others. Philippe Trudeau allowed 10 goals on 37 shots while William Racicot allowed three on 13.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see another blowout today. Buckle up.

Games 3 and 4 will be played Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Breton.

RECAP: Lighting It Up. Dogs Win 13-4.


FINAL: Cape Breton 4, Saint John 13

It was a bit of weird one last night at Harbour Station.

The final score wasn’t all that shocking as the Saint John Sea Dogs destroyed the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles by score of 13-4. But, although surprising considering the final score, the Eagles actually led in this game at one point and entered the second period tied 2-2.

Unfortunately for Cape Breton, the Sea Dogs exploded in the second period. Saint John scored eight times in the frame, tying a 25-year old Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record for most goals in one period of a playoff game.

Saint John added three more in the third to give the Dogs a 13-4 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series. Game 2 goes tonight at 7pm at the Station.

Charlie Coyle put on show for the national audience that was watching on Sportsnet by scoring three goals and adding three assists. Danick Gauthier had two goals while singles came from Zack Phillips, Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Jurco, Aidan Kelly, Nathan Beaulieu, Charles Roussel, Stanislav Galiev, and Jason Seed. Yes, Jason Seed scored last night.

Mathieu Corbeil’s goaltending won’t be remembered as the greatest performance of all-time. The Eagles had just two shots in the first period and connected on both. They added two more in the second period on just seven shots. In total, the Eagles would score four goals on 19 shots. Hopefully Corbeil’s performance is not a sign of things to come this post-season.

Bronson Beaton scored twice for the Eagles while singles came courtesy of Kyle Farrell and William Carrier. Sam Cosentino was just loving the performances of Bronson and Carrier.

Poor Philippe Trudeau allowed 10 goals on 37 shots. Willam Racicot allowed three on 13.

Some other random stuff:

Friday, March 23, 2012

No SN Live Coverage Of Games 1 & 2

FREDERICTON – SN will not be offering in-game tweets or a live blog for this evening’s playoff game at Harbour Station between the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Game Two of the first round playoff series - which will be played tomorrow at 7:00 pm - will be without a live blog as well.

Tonight’s match can be seen live coast-to-coast on Sportsnet Ontario, Pacific, and Sens. News 88.9’s coverage begins at 7:45pm. The Sea Dogs’ Twitter should provide occasional updates.

The remainder of the series will be covered as usual.

SN’s pre-game coverage can be seen here

Playoff Gameday 1: vs Screaming Eagles

GAMEDAY
Round 1, Game 1
Saint John Sea Dogs vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Tonight at 8pm
Radio: News 88.9 | Webcast: Telus | TV: Sportsnet | Live Blog: None
Harbour Station – Saint John, NB


PREVIEW
SAINT JOHN – The journey begins tonight for the Saint John Sea Dogs.

The last time the Sea Dogs played a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff game, Alexandre Beauregard was scoring the overtime winner to give Saint John their first ever President’s Cup title. Tonight, the road to a repeat begins with Dogs hosting the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at Harbour Station in the opening game of a first round series. Game time is 8pm and can be seen nationally on Sportsnet.

The Sea Dogs, ranked No. 1 in the final edition of the BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings, finished the season in first place with a record of 50-15-0-3 for 103 points. The Screaming Eagles finished in 16th with a 23-42-1-2 record for 49 points.

No matter what stat you look at, this is a huge mismatch. The Sea Dogs destroyed the Eagles in a four-game sweep in last year’s opening round, outscoring them 26-2. There is a legitimate chance that kind of lopsided series could happen again.

Cape Breton is taking a realistic approach to this series.

"Listen, they’re the three-time league champs and defending Mem Cup champs so we’re very respectful of what they’ve accomplished," Eagles head coach Ron Choules told the Chronicle Herald. "We know what we’re getting into. . . . But like I said to the kids, let’s accept this challenge. Playing against the best only makes you better. Let’s make sure we follow our plan, stay on the same page and make sure they earn everything they get."

This is the third time in four years that the two have met in the first round. Cape Breton swept Saint John back in 2009 and the Saint John swept the Eagles last year.

SERIES STATUS
This is Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

Photoblog: University Cup - Day 1


FREDERICTON – Besides almost getting killed by a t-shirt, being stuck in traffic for 40 minutes, and seeing Hugo Laporte get an assist, the opening day of the 2012 University Cup in Fredericton was quite awesome.

Here’s a recap of Thursday’s events in Freddy Beach.

SN's First Round Playoff Predictions


You see this sign here? This sign was made by the Moncton Wildcats hockey club, asking the opposing team, the Halifax Mooseheads, to “bring it” when the two teams square off in a playoff series beginning tonight.

Will the Mooseheads bring it tonight? We’ll soon find out. They certainly did bring their excellent Photoshop skills, posting this on their Facebook.


The Halifax/Moncton series is one of the few in the first round that has some intrigue. There usually isn’t a whole lot of drama in the opening round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. But that’s just the way it goes in this section of the CHL.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In The Hockey Hall

The Saint John Sea Dogs' Memorial Cup Championship is currently well documented in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. These photos come from @shelgarland on Twitter.


Fun With Numbers


FREDERICTON – Their playoff run begins in less than 24 hours, so let's assess some of the numbers from the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 2011-12 regular season.

What we’ve done here is gone through the stats pages that are provided by the league, select some the stranger/alarming/not discussed much stats, and made this post for you to enjoy.

We’ve checked over these numbers several times, so they should all be accurate (according the league, anyway).

Let’s start with some individual numbers.

  • Despite playing in just 37 games, Jonathan Huberdeau finished the season ranked 26th in league scoring with 72 points.
  • Ian Saab finished fourth in penalty minutes with 164 and third in major penalties with 18.
  • Huberdeau led the league in shorthanded assists with five.
  • Huberdeau had the league’s second best shooting percentage with a rating of 24.4%. He scored 30 goals on 123 shots.
  • Seven of Danick Gauthier’s 47 goals were game winners.
  • Nathan Beaulieu’s 52 points places him sixth in scoring by defensemen.
  • Beaulieu had three shorthanded points, placing him in a tie for the league lead in shorthanded points by a d-man.
  • Kevin Gagne had the second most faceoff wins by a defenseman with five.
  • Charlie Coyle ended the season on an 11-game point streak.
  • Zack Phillips had a league best 13-game assist streak.
  • Phillips also had the league’s longest point streak this year, recording at least a point in 22 consecutive games.
  • Maxime Villemaire had a goal in six straight home games which ties him for the longest streak of its kind on home ice. The streak was split between his time with Drummondville and Saint John.
  • Villemaire picked up 16 penalty minutes in a game back on February 15, the highest single game total in the league this year.
  • Huberdeau was a league best +53.
  • Seven of the league’s top 10 plus/minus players are Sea Dogs.
  • As Tim Roszell pointed out last weekend on his broadcast, 40 different players suited up for the Sea Dogs this season. Wow.

University Cup Begins Today

FREDERICTON – Good morning from a sunny and warm Freddy Beach. It’s felt like Orlando here for the past few days.

Hopefully the Aitken University Centre will be nice and cool as the 2012 University Cup kicks off this afternoon. The first game begins at 2pm with Alexandre Picard-Hooper and the McGill Redmen taking on Keven Charland, Charles Bergeron and the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus.

Later today at 7pm, Travis Fullerton and the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds face the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes. Although he isn’t listed on the team’s website, the CHL says former Sea Dog Olivier Ouellet plays for UQTR. We’ll see.

The QMJHL website had an article on Fullerton yesterday. The Times & Transcript also had an article on the UNB goaltender. 

“I think it was a great learning experience in a lot of ways,” Fullerton said of his time in the Q, where he played with Saint John and the Lewiston Maineiacs. “It’s an excellent league, one of the best in Canada. When you play against the best players you’re naturally going to develop and rise to the occasion.”

We’ll have coverage of the tournament all week. Check out UNB Hockey Fans for more.

Also of note, last night at The Playhouse, former Sea Dog Michael Kirkpatrick was named to the CIS All-Rookie team. Kirkpatrick was named the AUS Rookie of the Year a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saint John Tops Final Rankings

The Saint John Sea Dogs will end the regular season where they started it – ranked No. 1 in the BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings. The final rankings were released earlier today.

The Sea Dogs were ranked No. 1 in the CHL’s pre-season rankings way back on September 7. Saint John was the only team in the country to be ranked in every edition of the Top 10. They slipped all the way down to No. 6 at times due to injuries, NHL camps, and the World Juniors but always climbed back up.

Saint John was ranked No. 1 in the final four Top 10s this season.

The Dogs are coming off a 3-0 week. They defeated the Halifax Mooseheads 6-1 last Wednesday, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-0 on Friday, and the Eagles again by score of 7-4 on Saturday. The three wins clinched Saint John a third straight regular season title, 100-point season, and 50-win season.

Other Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams to crack this week’s rankings were the Shawinigan Cataractes at No. 5 and the Victoriaville Tigres at No. 10. The Quebec Remparts were an honourable mention.

The weekly rankings of the Canadian Hockey League’s Top 10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.

Here are the BMO CHL MasterCard Top 10 Rankings for week 26.

1. Saint John Sea Dogs (50-15-0-3)
2. Tri-City Americans (50-18-2-2)
3. London Knights (49-18-0-1)
4. Edmonton Oil Kings (50-15-3-4)
5. Shawinigan Cataractes (45-16-3-4)
6. Plymouth Whalers (47-18-2-1)
7. Portland Winterhawks (49-19-3-1)
8. Niagara IceDogs (47-18-0-3)
9. Kamloops Blazers (47-20-2-3)
10. Victoriaville Tigres (44-18-1-5) 
Honourable Mention:
Quebec Remparts (43-18-5-2)
Ottawa 67's (40-20-5-3)
Moose Jaw Warriors (45-19-6-2)

This is the second straight season that Saint John has topped the final edition of the rankings.

This Season Was Alright For Fighting


FREDERICTON – There are some numbers from the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 2011-12 regular season that really jump out at you.

The team racked up 50 wins and 100 points for the third straight season. They averaged a team record 4,561 fans per game at Harbour Station. Mathieu Corbeil’s goal against average of 2.38 led the league. They had a league high 28 home wins. They were 35-3-0-0 when scoring first. 31 of Saint John’s 50 wins came against Maritime Division opponents. They outscored opponents 125-57 in second periods. They averaged a league best 26.6 shots against per game. But one number that really jumps out – the Sea Dogs’ fight numbers.

Saint John dropped the gloves 68 times this year according to HockeyFights.com, the fourth most fights in the league this season. The fight total is almost double what it was a year ago. It’s the second most the Sea Dogs have ever had in one season, even more than their expansion season.

Simple math tells us that the Sea Dogs averaged one-fight per game this year.

Here’s a year-by-year look. All numbers from HockeyFights.com.

SeasonFight Total
2011-1268
2010-1137
2009-1032
2008-0930
2007-0860
2006-0791
2005-0667

19 different Sea Dogs participated in scraps this season. Not surprisingly, Ian Saab and Grant West both had a team high 15 fights. Spencer MacDonald had five while Oliver Cooper, Nathan Beaulieu, and Stephen MacAulay each had four. The full list can be found here.

It’s unlikely the fight per game average will carry over into the post-season. Saint John had just seven fights in last season’s playoffs and one the year before. 

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five Sea Dogs earn Golden Puck nods

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced the nominees for this year’s Golden Puck Awards today. Included among the nominees are five Saint John Sea Dogs.

Nathan Beaulieu was nominated for the Émile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy, awarded to the league’s top defenseman. Jérôme Gauthier-Leduc of Rimouski and Blainville-Boisbriand’s Xavier Ouellet are the other nominees. Beaulieu will hope to keep it in the club, as Simon Després won the award last season.

Meanwhile, Pierre Durepos has gotten a nod for the Kevin Lowe Trophy as best defensive defenseman, along with Shawinigan’s Morgan Ellis and Martin Lefebvre of the Quebec Remparts.

Stephen MacAulay is up for the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as best defensive forward alongside Max LeSieur of the Cataractes and the Remparts’ Frédérick Roy, and Jonathan Huberdeau is nominated for the Paul Dumont Trophy as Personality of the Year. Rookies Mikhail Grigorenko of the Remparts and Nathan MacKinnon of Halifax are the other nominees.

Gerard Gallant will be looking to three-peat as coach of the year. He’s nominated for the Ron Lapointe Trophy, as are Jean-François Houle of the Armada, and the ever-colorful Patrick Roy of the Remparts. Gallant won the award in 2010 and 2011. He’s also the two-time defending CHL Coach of the Year.

The Sea Dogs had three winners last year; Després, Gallant, and Mike Kelly as General Manager of the Year. Jacob DeSerres also collected the Jacques Plante Trophy for having the league’s lowest goals against average, a trophy that Mathieu Corbeil will receive this year.

The nominees for the Michel-Brière Trophy for league MVP are the QMJHL’s top two scorers, Yanni Gourde of Victoriaville and Zach O’Brien of Bathurst, as well as Grigorenko. The full list of nominees is available here.

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

The Odds Favour The Dogs


According to the ancient art of statistical probability or whatever, the odds of the Saint John Sea Dogs defeating the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the first-round of the playoffs are quite good.


According to Buzzing The Net statistician, Rob Pettapiece, the Sea Dogs have a 98 percent probability of beating Cape Breton in their first round matchup with the most likely outcome being a four-game sweep.

That is some mind blowing stuff.

The Yahoo! article is a good read and includes quotes from Mike Kelly and Stephen MacAulay. Over at Buzzing The Net, they have the odds for the other seven first-round series as well.

Some other stuff:

  • A special promotion offering $10 upper-bowl tickets to Game 1 has been extended through Tuesday. Tickets to both games are available by calling the arena box office at (506) 657-1234 or by visiting www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.
  • Per a Sea Dogs release, “Friday night’s match will feature a special pre-game ceremony in which QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau will present the Sea Dogs with the Jean Rougeau Trophy as regular season champions for the third straight season, a feat that has never been accomplished in league history.”
  • Jonathan Brunelle was the Danick Gauthier of the Screaming Eagles awards banquet last night.
  • Friend-of-the-blog Jeremy Fraser has a solid series preview up on the Eagles website.

Game 1 is Friday night at 8pm at Harbour Station. The match can be seen live on Sportsnet. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gauthier The Big Winner At Banquet


SAINT JOHN – Danick Gauthier was the big winner at the Saint John Sea Dogs’ annual team awards banquet at the Delta Brunswick.

The Sea Dogs’ leading scorer took home three awards for his team record setting 47-goal campaign. Gauthier won the Pepsi Top Scorer Award, the Alpine Three Stars Award and was named the Tim Hortons Most Improved Player.

The 20-year old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect recorded 86 points in 66 games this year. He had 11 goals and 30 points in 65 games last year.

Oliver Cooper and Sebastien Auger were co-winners of the Grant Thornton Rookie of the Year Award. Cooper, the Sea Dogs’ top pick in last year’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, recorded 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games this season. Auger had a record of 14-2-0-2 to go with a goals against average of 2.65 and save percentage of 0.897.

The Children’s Wish Foundation Fan Choice Award went to captain Jonathan Huberdeau, the Scotiabank Community Service Award was awarded to forward Grant West, the Irving Oil Team Player Award was won by forward Stephen MacAulay, and the Saint John Airport Academic Player of the Year went to defenseman Kevin Gagne.

Two awards – the Bell Aliant Most Valuable Player and the Sun Life Global Investments Top Defenceman – were not presented at the banquet as they will be named upon the conclusion of the Sea Dogs' playoff run.

Photo Credit: 97.3 The Wave

First round schedule released

The QMJHL has released the schedule for the first round of the playoffs.

The Saint John Sea Dogs will open their title defense at home on Friday, March 23rd, against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Puck drop is at 8pm. Game 2 goes the next evening at Harbour Station at 7pm.

The series shifts back to Sydney on Tuesday the 27th and Wednesday the 28th for games 3 and 4. Both games begin at 7pm. If necessary (it won’t be), Game 5 will be back in Saint John on Friday the 30th at 7:30pm. Game 6 is penciled in for Sunday, April 1st at 7pm in Centre 200. Game 7 would be played Tuesday the 3rd at Harbour Station at 7pm. The full series schedule:

March 23rd, 2012 – Game 1 – Cape Breton @ Saint John, 8pm
March 24th, 2012 – Game 2 – Cape Breton @ Saint John, 7pm
March 27th, 2012 – Game 3 – Saint John @ Cape Breton, 7pm
March 28th, 2012 – Game 4 – Saint John @ Cape Breton, 7pm
*March 30th, 2012 – Game 5 – Cape Breton @ Saint John, 7:30pm
*April 1st, 2012 – Game 6 – Saint John @ Cape Breton, 7pm
*April 3rd, 2012 – Game 7 – Cape Breton @ Saint John, 7pm
*If necessary

The full schedule for the first round can be found here.

Sea Dogs Notebook

AWARDS
The Sea Dogs will hold their annual team awards banquet tonight at the Delta Brunswick Ballroom. The formal night will include cocktails at 6 p.m., with the dinner and awards beginning at 6:30.

The awards given out tonight are the Saint John Airport Academic Player of the Year, Tim Hortons Most Improved Player, Irving Oil Team Player Award, Scotiabank Community Service Award, Alpine Three Stars Award, Children’s Wish Foundation Fan Choice Award, and the Pepsi Top Scorer Award.

Three awards, the Bell Aliant Most Valuable Player, the Grant Thornton Rookie of the Year and the Sun Life Global Investments Top Defenceman, will be handed out after the conclusion of the Sea Dogs playoff run.

All the info can be found on the Sea Dogs website. 

PHILLIPS
Last week, Sea Dogs forward Zack Phillips was named the winner of the Myer and Jack Budovitch Award as Fredericton's athlete of the year for 2011.

It was quite a year for Phillips. He attended the CHL/NHL Top Prospects, helped the Sea Dogs win the President’s Cup and Memorial Cup, and was selected in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild.

Although the site has not been updated in a while, more info on the award can be found on the Fredericton Sports Investment website.

UP NEXT
The second season begins on Friday at 8pm at Harbour Station as the Sea Dogs host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Game One of their best-of-seven first-round series. Note that this is an 8pm start because of the Sportsnet broadcast.

Game Two will played on Saturday at 7pm at the Station. The full schedule has not been released yet, but Games Three and Four will likely be played the following Tuesday and Wednesday in Sydney.

Tickets are available at the Harbour Station box office, by calling 506-657-1234 or online at www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.

Best Kept Secret


By Andrew McGilligan
SN Staff

The year was 1984 and the Ottawa 67’s and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues were hoisting the Memorial Cup and University Cup aloft.

It was the last time two teams from the same province would hold both titles in the same season until 27 years later.

Flash forward to 2011 and the Saint John Sea Dogs were skating around the ice in Mississauga with the Memorial Cup held high while the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds were celebrating a University Cupchampionship on home ice at the Aitken Centre.

A great moment for provincial hockey fans and one that has the possibility to be repeated. On Thursday, UNB begins its defence of the University Cup as the CIS championship begins in Fredericton. On Friday, the Sea Dogs begin their quest for a second-straight President’s Cup title and a berth in the Memorial Cup.

No matter the outcome of either championship run, the Varsity Reds and Sea Dogs have already contributed to what is essentially a golden age in New Brunswick hockey.

The last three seasons (I’m including the 2011-12 season even though it has yet to finish) have seen unprecedented success by provincial teams. Including the two national titles brought home last year, the Sea Dogs and Wildcats have two President’s Cups. In addition, Saint John set a QMJHL record as the only team to ever capture three-straight Jean Rougeau trophies (regular-season titles), while UNB has finished atop to the AUS standings in the regular season for five-straight years and has been the AUS playoff champions the past two seasons.

With that type of success, individual accolades are sure to follow:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Good Season For Mathieu Corbeil

SAINT JOHN – For the second straight year, a Saint John Sea Dogs goaltender will be taking home the Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy for having the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s best goals against average.

A year after Jacob DeSerres’ took home the honours, 20-year Mathieu Corbeil has finished atop the league with a GAA of 2.38. The next closest competitor was Shawinigan’s Gabriel Girard who finished with a 2.45 mark.

Corbeil finished near the top of every statistical category. He finished fifth in save percentage (0.911), first in wins (37), and first in shutouts (6). He played 2778:40 of hockey (8th) over 48 games and made 1124 saves (11th).

Before this season, Corbeil had never recorded a QMJHL shutout.

Although a lot of people will say Corbeil’s numbers are only because of the team in front of him, you have to give the netminder a lot of credit. Corbeil stepped up his game this year and that was apparent at many points in the season. There were moments when he seemed a bit shaky – particularly around Christmas – but he always bounced back.

Now the real test begins as Corbeil will be looked upon to backstop Saint John through the playoffs.

Speaking of the team that played in front of him all season, they weren’t too shabby this year.  The Sea Dogs finished with the second lowest goals against average in the league this season at 2.62. They allowed the fewest shots against per game on average with a rate of 26.60.


Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

First-Round Matchups Set

SAINT JOHN – After 578 regular season games, the 2011-12 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season has come to an end.

The PEI Rocket have the unfortunate role of being the only team to miss the playoffs this year with the league only icing 17 squads. So, 16 teams will take part in the post-season once again this year.

The format is simple – the No. 1 seed will play the No. 16 seed, the No. 2 seed will play the No. 15 seed, and so on in the first-round. Here are the round one matchups.

Saint John Sea Dogs (1) vs Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (16)
Shawinigan Cataractes (2) vs Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (15)
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (3) vs Gatineau Olympiques (14)
Victoriaville Tigres (4) vs Baie-Comeau Drakkar (13)
Quebec Remparts (5) vs Drummondville Voltigeurs (12)
Halifax Mooseheads (6) vs Moncton Wildcats (11)
Rimouski Oceanic (7) vs Val-d’Or Foreurs (10)
Chicoutimi Sagueneens (8) vs Acadie-Bathurst Titan (9)

Like every year, the teams the finished in the middle of standings should provide the post intriguing matchups. Halifax/Moncton, Rimouski/Val-d’Or, and Chicoutimi/Bathurst could all be close and hard fought playoff series'.

None of the schedules for the first-round have been released yet.

Looking ahead a bit to the second-round, there could be some interesting matchups. If there are no upsets in the first-round, Saint John would play Chicoutimi in a series that has plenty of storylines. Quebec/Victoriaville would likely be quite a series and Halifax/Blainville-Boisbriand could be a coin toss. We'll see what happens.

With Saint John finishing first overall, they will always play the lowest seeded team. That means there is no possible way for the Dogs to play Shawinigan unless it is in the league final. If that were to happen, Saint John would automatically earn a trip to the Memorial Cup.