FINAL: Saint John 5, Sherbrooke 6 (SO)
Lorne Webster | SN Staff
SHERBROOKE, QC - In their second game in western Quebec in less than 24 hours, the Saint John Sea Dogs (24-14-1-6) were in Sherbrooke to face the Phoenix (24-16-1-3) Sunday afternoon. The Sea Dogs gave up three early goals but came all the way back to get the game into overtime before falling 6-5 in a shootout at the Palais des Sports Leopold-Drolet.
Kevin Domingue scored what proved to be the shootout winner. Daniel Audette had a pair of goals for Sherbrooke, in addition to singles from Cameron Darcy, David Storto and Gabriel Fontaine to lead the Phoenix to the win. Jason Bell, Mathieu Joseph, Juraj Siska, Boko Imama - with his first as a Sea Dog - and Spencer Smallman replied for the Sea Dogs.
The first period was one to forget for the Sea Dogs as they were down 3-0 before the game was barely three minutes old. At 1:16, Audette intercepted a clearing pass inside the Sea Dogs blue line and flipped the puck to Darcy, who curled to the right wing and fired a bullet over Alex Bishop's glove to open the scoring. At 1:29, off the ensuing face-off, Jack vanBoekel fell down leading to a quick two on one where Storto made a lovely back door pass to Audette who tipped the puck past Bishop. At 3:07, Storto one-timed a short pass by Audette from behind the net past Bishop to make it 3-0 for Sherbrooke.
At 15:22, following a neutral zone turnover, Chase Harwell carried the puck into the Sea Dogs end and dropped it back to Fontaine who made no mistake as he fired the puck through Bishop's legs to extend the Phoenix lead to 4-0. Following the bad start, Saint John actually outshot Sherbrooke 10-9 but could not beat rookie goalie Evan Fitzpatrick in the first period.
At 3:49 of a wild second period, Bell loaded his cannon at the left point and sent a booming slap shot past Fitzpatrick to make it 4-1. At 8:51, Joseph carried the puck into the Phoenix zone, danced into the slot and snapped the puck over Fitzpatrick's glove to make it 4-2. However, 33 seconds later, Audette picked up the puck as Bailey Webster lost an edge, flashed down the left wing and roofed the puck over Bishop's shoulder to restore a three-goal lead. Then, less than a minute later, Siska carried the puck into Sherbrooke's end and sent a laser past Fitzpatrick to make it 5-3. The Sea Dogs led 9-8 on the shot clock in the second.
At 8:25 of the third, Imama found a big rebound off a point shot from Bell and fired a backhand past a fallen Fitzpatrick to make it 5-4. With 19.8 seconds left and Bishop on the bench for an extra attacker, Nathan Noel picked up the pick in the left wing corner, curled off the side wall at the face-off circle and wired a low wrist shot that Smallman tipped past Fitzpatrick to tie the game at 5-5. Saint John managed to outshoot Sherbrooke 10-3 in the third.
Shots were 3-1 Saint John in overtime, to lead in shots 33-22 overall, but the game had to be decided in a shootout.
The third shooter for each team, Tim Weiser and Smallman, broke the ice in the shootout with lovely dekes. Then, Domingue wired a wrist shot past Bishop before Fitzpatrick stoned Siska to earn the extra point for Sherbrooke.
Sherbrooke's quick strike offense came out firing on all cylinders with three goals in under two minutes to start the game... but Saint John did not quit and Smallman's last minute goal sent the game to extra time.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Sherbrooke's line of Audette-Darcy-Storto was a threat every time they stepped on the ice. Saint John newcomers Jason Bell (1G, 2A) and Boko Imama (1G, 1A) are getting more comfortable every day in Sea Dogs uniforms and are showing that Darrell Young's faith in them is well founded.
- With forwards Justice Dundas (suspension) and Mark Tremaine (lower body) unable to play, Daniel Del Paggio and Matt Green returned to the lineup.
- Forward Julien Tessier (day-to-day recovering from a flu) and defenceman Jakub Zboril (week-to-week with a lower body injury) did not travel to Quebec with the Sea Dogs this weekend.
- Sea Dog rookies Luke and Matt Green faced their former Newbridge Academy (NS) teammate Evan Fitzpatrick for the first time in the QMJHL.
- After entering December with a 16-6-1-4 record, the Sea Dogs have since gone 8-8-0-2 - including consecutive streaks of four wins, four losses, three wins and four losses (including a shootout loss) before beating Drummondville on Wednesday, losing to Gatineau yesterday and then earning a point today. Saint John's record in their eleven games since Christmas is 4-5-0-2 - with three regulation losses by one goal and two losses by two goals.
- By clearing out most of their veteran players during the recent trade period, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan have squeaked past Saint John to claim the title of the youngest team in the QMJHL.
The Sea Dogs return to Harbour Station next weekend to face the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Friday at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday at 3 p.m.