MONCTON - Following a ten day break for Christmas, the Saint John Sea Dogs (20-10-1-4) travelled to Moncton Sunday afternoon to face the rival Wildcats (23-10-0-2).
The Wildcats’ power play proved to be the difference in an entertaining 6-5 win for Moncton. The victory extended Moncton's win streak to six games and increased their lead atop the Maritimes Division to three points over Saint John.
After losing their final three games prior to Christmas, it was hoped that the break would help the young Sea Dogs as they prepare for a hectic second half schedule. Unfortunately, the Sea Dogs woes continued with their fourth consecutive loss. Hopefully the Sea Dogs can get back on the right track starting tomorrow in Bathurst.
Jacob Sweeney, with two, Zack MacEwen, Cameron Askew, Alexandre Jacob and Zach Malatesta scored for Moncton while Luke Green, with two, Mark Tremaine, Spencer Smallman and Juraj Siska replied for Saint John.
The Sea Dogs failed to capitalize on an early two-man advantage. However, on a power play at 9:40, Luke Green picked up the puck at the point, broke down the left wing and started to go behind the net but instead roofed the puck over Alex Dubeau's short-side shoulder to open the scoring.
Just over a minute later, with Sam Dove-McFalls out of the play after a huge hit from Malatesta, MacEwen’s second chance off a scramble found its way past Sebastien Auger to tie the score at 1-1. Ross Yates was upset with referee Mario Maillet for allowing play to continue with an injured Sea Dog down. Yates was even less impressed when the Sea Dogs were called for three penalties in under two minutes, including a major/match to Jacob Zboril for supposedly kicking a Wildcat.
At 14:16, during the ensuing power plays, Sweeney's shot off the crossbar appeared to stay out. But a video review nearly two minutes later showed that the puck had landed just behind the goal line and the Wildcats were ruled to be up 2-1. At 18:38, with 10 seconds left in Zboril's penalty, Sweeney took a short pass from Askew in the slot and rifled the puck past Auger to extend Moncton's lead to 3-1. Shots on goal favoured Moncton 19-11 in the first.
At 7:07 of a wild second period, former Wildcat Tremaine tipped Thomas Chabot's point shot past Dudeau to make the score 3-2. Less than three minutes later, the QMJHL's top rated power play connected for their third goal on their sixth try, when Askew's rocket from the wing eluded Auger to restore Moncton's two goal lead at 9:53. At 12:47, on a delayed penalty call, Green took a nice drop pass from Nathan Noel and wired a wrist shot past Dubeau to cut the lead to 4-3. At 15:48, Askew created a neutral zone turnover, then on a two on one break sent a beautiful cross ice pass to a streaking Jacob who tipped the puck past Auger to extend Moncton's lead to 5-3. At 17:57, Smallman picked up a rebound of a Julien Tessier shot, went around the net and stuffed the puck into the Wildcats' cage to make the score 5-4. Saint John out shot Moncton 17-7 in the second stanza.
At 11:53 of a tight checking third period, Malatesta's point shot deflected off a Sea Dog in front of Auger and into the top corner to restore another two-goal lead. But just 28 seconds later, Mitch Dempsey collected the puck on the left wing, skated towards the slot and sent a short pass to Siska who one-timed the puck past Dubeau to cut the lead to 6-5. The Sea Dogs simply could not get another puck past Dubeau after Siska's tally. Saint John once again out shot Moncton 15-6 in the third to end the game up 43-32 on the shot clock.
The three consecutive penalty calls midway through the first period resulted in two power play goals for Moncton and ultimately led them to the victory. The referee’s decision to allow play to continue with an injured Sam Dove-McFalls lying on the ice prior to MacEwen's first goal did not help the Sea Dogs’ cause either.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Cameron Askew (1G, 2A) was an offensive force and Taylor Burke was called upon for nearly half of the faceoffs for the Wildcats. Mark Tremaine (1G, 2A) was a workhorse for Saint John.
- This was the first game of three in four days for both teams to open the second half of the season.
- Forwards Mathieu Joseph (suspended) and Alex Kealey (body soreness) along with healthy defencemen Bailey Webster and Braydon Blight did not dress for Saint John.
- Juraj Siska’s goal was his first since Oct. 26.
- Luke Green, with two goals, had his first multi-point game.
- With Ivan Barbashev away with Team Russia, Will Smith suspended and injuries to Stephen Johnson and Lane Cormier, Moncton called up four affiliates for this game.
- The QMJHL annual holiday trade period officially opened on Friday, Dec. 19. Saint John's only move thus far was sending defence prospect Louis-Philip Fortin to Shawinigan for a pair of draft choices. Moncton sent former captain Christophe Lalonde and forward Mathieu Olivier to Shawinigan for three draft choices. The Wildcats also sent star import Vladimir Tkachev to Quebec for overage forward Taylor Burke and a pair of mid-round draft choices. Otherwise, there has been virtually no talk of pending trades from either team.
- During the game, former Sea Dogs player and current Wildcats employee, Keven Charland, visited Tim Roszell and said that the Sea Dogs and Wildcats have agreed to promote blood drives in January with prizes and extra Rivalry Cup points at stake. Stay tuned for details.
The Sea Dogs travel to Bathurst tomorrow to face the Titan at 7:30 p.m.