FINAL: Bathurst 1, Saint John 5
By Lorne Webster | SN Staff
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs (1-1-1) kicked off their 2014-15 home schedule with an impressive 5-1 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (1-2-0) in front of over 4,600 fans at Harbour Station on Friday night.
After a lovely 30 minute opening ceremony, the young Sea Dogs fed off an electric crowd and came out flying. New captain Olivier LeBlanc scored a power play goal just one minute into the game. However, just before the 5:00 mark, Mark Simpson grabbed a turnover at the Sea Dogs blue line and fed Gabriel Gosselin who stuffed the puck between Sebastien Auger's pads to tie the game at 1-1. Then, three minutes later, Mark Tremaine tipped in a Jack van Boekel point shot to put the Dogs out front 2-1. The score stayed that way for the remainder of the period and the Sea Dogs also out shot the Titan 11-4.
The Sea Dogs continued to control the play into the second period. Just before the ten-minute mark, Sam Dove-McFalls stole the puck, broke down the wing and fed a lovely pass to Mathieu Joseph for a tap in. A little over five minutes later, Nathan Noel one timed a feed from Adam Marsh for the Dogs' second power play of the night. aint John out shot Bathurst 12-7 and went to the locker room up 4-1.
The third period was controlled primarily by the referees, who doled out penalties like candy at Halloween. Nathan Noel scored a short handed, empty net goal with 22 seconds left to finish the scoring on the night. Bathurst had 14 shots against seven for the Dogs. But Saint John's penalty kill continued its impressive start to the season by killing all 10 Titan power plays.
During the opening shift, Mitch Dempsey leveled a Titan player along the boards with a huge, clean hit - but Gabriel Gosselin punched Dempsey and earned a penalty for his trouble. On the ensuing power play, LeBlanc took a feed from Luke Green, waltzed to the high slot and ripped a wrist shot off the cross bar and into the net behind Jacob Brennan. The Dogs were off and running.
S.N. PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Olivier Leblanc, fresh off a trip to Columbus' NHL rookie camp, set the tone at both ends of the ice.
Sebastien Auger turned in another outstanding effort to backstop the victory.
- Prior to puck drop, Tim Roszell served as master of ceremonies for an excellent, moving pre-game ceremony to celebrate the Sea Dogs 10th anniversary in the QMJHL. The show, which included introductions of all of the current Sea Dogs, was highlighted by a couple of heartwarming videos. First, was a montage of some of the biggest moments in Sea Dogs history, such as the selection of Alex Grant in the inaugural draft, the first goal by Jeff Caron and, of course the team's Memorial Cup championship. The second showed each captain in Sea Dog history handing the "C" down the line until Mike Thomas came on the ice to present the 'C' to the new captain, Olivier LeBlanc. One very special guest and Irving 7th player was Jack Gallant - son of Sea Dog fan favorite and New York Islander, Brett Gallant.
- The Sea Dogs wore special 10th anniversary jerseys featuring the commemorative logo, all 177 names of former Dogs who have played for the team, and "once a Sea Dog, always a Sea Dog" posted on the collar.
- Scratches for Saint John were Blade Mann-Dixon, Braydon Blight, Thomas Chabot, Alex Kealey and Juraj Siska.
- Nikita Li made his Sea Dogs regular season debut and showed enough skills to prove that Darrell Young et al have a very tough choice to make this week on the second import position.
- Jacob Zboril wore a full face shield after being injured in Moncton last Sunday.
- Jacob Brennan stopped Mathieu Joseph on a penalty shot in the first.
NEXT GAME: The Sea Dogs are in Halifax tomorrow night to take on the Mooseheads at 7 p.m.