FINAL: Charlottetown 3, Saint John 4
SAINT JOHN - In the third home game (and the fifth of six games overall) of the 2014 QMJHL exhibition season, the Saint John Sea Dogs beat the Charlottetown Islanders 4-3 at Harbour Station.
Spencer Smallman led the way with two goals for the Dogs. Dan Del Paggio and Julien Tessier also scored for Saint John. Daniel Sprong, Kameron Kielly and Julien Avon responded for the Islanders.
While the Islanders had announced their opening night roster last weekend, the Sea Dogs are still left with at least one major roster decision - the battle for the second Euro spot. Nikita Li did not dress for the Sea Dogs, while Juraj Siska turned in another strong performance. Jakub Zboril made his debut in Saint John and showed the dynamic skills reported from Europe, especially during the recent Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. Zboril caught Samuel Guilbault with his head down in the second period when be leveled the Islander with a huge open ice hit.
Alex Kealey, the 6'6", soon-to-be 17 year-old winger also sat out this contest ... along with Li, Matt Green, Bailey Webster, Braydon Blight, and Bobby Dugan.
This game also marked the return of Oliver Cooper and Will Thompson to Harbour Station in Islanders black, gold and white. Cooper made a nifty play to feed Sprong for the opening goal. Otherwise, Cooper was most noticeable with his after the whistle antics (more below). Thompson played a solid game, highlighted by a big hit near the blue line in the first. He was also called for a tripping penalty later in the second period.
The Sea Dogs were somewhat sloppy in the first period. Despite out shooting Charlottetown 14-12, they found themselves down 2-0 as the result of two goals less than 30 seconds apart scored by Sprong and Kielly, just before the 7:00 mark.
Ross Yates and the coaching staff must have really got the boys focused and fired up during the first intermission. The young Sea Dogs came out flying in the middle frame. By the time the onslaught ended, Saint John out shot Charlottetown 24-4 (yes, you read that right) and the Dogs were rewarded with goals by Smallman (on a rebound on a high point shot from Luke Green), Del Paggio (on a tip in off a great rush by Mitch Dempsey) and Tessier (after pure hard work along with line mates Sam Dove-McFalls and Mathieu Joseph).
Early in the third period - before some fans had returned with their treats - Smallman added his second after another strong shift with line mates Nathan Noel and Juraj Siska. With just under five minutes to go in the third, Avon took advantage of a lapse by the Sea Dogs power play unit to get a partial break and slammed a nice backhand off the post and behind Sebastien Auger. A pile of rough stuff followed. Somehow, with less than a minute remaining, the guys in stripes decided to give the Islanders one last power play, including a penalty to a guy that wasn't even on the ice (#28 Mark Tremaine). It appears that even the referees need some work to get ready for the regular season. However, Saint John held strong to maintain the margin of victory. The Sea Dogs held the SOG advantage again (16-12) to finish the night up 54-28 on the ol' shot clock.
TURNING POINT / BIG MOMENT
Ross Yates' pep talk in the first intermission must have been world-class. It's been a while since the Sea Dogs faithful have witnessed a 20 shot on goal differential in one period. Exciting times.
S.N. PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Spencer Smallman and his line mates put on a real show, especially in the second and third periods.
Daryl MacCallum showed the Islanders brass that he is very capable to fill in for Mason MacDonald when needed. Many of his 50 saves were very impressive.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Cooper and Van Boekel getting to know each other. #goseadogs pic.twitter.com/psFTo1JKe1
— Lisa (@NBMaritimes) September 6, 2014
- The Sea Dogs and Islanders could turn into fierce rivals over the next few seasons. There appeared to be some bad blood brewing. Ross Johnston, Oliver Cooper, and Kameron Kielly were all notable with random verbal and physical shots taken at various Sea Dogs, especially Jack vanBoekel (who learned that Johnston is one of the top heavyweights in the QMJHL).
- After a first period scrum, a linesman led Oliver Cooper to the penalty box. When Cooper tried to take a seat in a familiar spot, he had to be guided to the visitor's side. That drew a few chuckles and then cheers from the fans when the refs decided his rough housing didn't warrant a penalty and was escorted back to the Islanders bench.
- Nathan Noel is now wearing No. 10, the number previously worn by Marcus Cuomo… Luke Green played in his first pre-season game at Harbour Station… Olivier LeBlanc, Matthew Highmore, and Mark Tremaine each wore an ‘A’ on their sweater… another decent announced crowd of 2,951 watched the game… the Islanders, who have already announced their roster, wore jerseys with legit nameplates… Saint John’s 54 shots are the most by any team in pre-season play this season… this was the first of three straight meetings between the two… the Sea Dogs went a perfect 3-0 at home this pre-season.
NEXT GAME: The Sea Dogs travel to Charlottetown to battle the Islanders on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. It is the final pre-season game for both teams.