FINAL: Bathurst 1, Saint John 4
Lorne Webster | SN Staff
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs (29-20-3-6) turned in their most complete 60-minute effort in a few weeks and were rewarded with a decisive 4-1 victory over the visiting Acadie-Bathurst Titan (15-37-4-2) Sunday afternoon at Harbour Station.
The win ended a recent four-game winless streak and also snapped a three game home winless streak against Bathurst. The win was critical in the Sea Dogs’ efforts to earn home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, especially as they look forward to important games this week against division rivals Cape Breton (Tuesday) and Charlottetown (Friday).
Jakub Zboril, Mathieu Joseph, Spencer Smallman and Sam Dove-McFalls scored for the Sea Dogs while Egor Popov replied for Bathurst.
The fans were buzzing prior to puck drop about the return of Zboril to the line-up and he showed why he is viewed as a likely first round NHL draft choice. On a power play at 2:01, Zboril unleashed a laser from the point that went right through a screened Reilly Pickard to open the scoring. Just past the ten minute mark, Joseph completed a nice give-and-go with Dove-McFalls as he beat Pickard over the glove to make it 2-0 for Saint John. The Sea Dogs also led 11-6 on the shot clock.
On another power play at 14:22 of the second, Smallman carried the puck to the high slot, faked a pass and wired a wrist shot to the top corner past a screened Pickard to extend Saint John's lead to 3-0. However, on the next shift, Sea Dog nemesis Andrew Ryan muscled his way to the front of the net and his wrist shot banked off Popov and past Sebastien Auger to bring the Titan back within two. Saint John outshot the Titan 16-5 in the second period.
The Sea Dogs continued their strong play to start the third period and, at 1:28, Dove-McFalls banged in the rebound of a Thomas Chabot point shot to reestablish Saint John's three goal lead at 4-1. Saint John’s onslaught of rubber resulted in another 17 shots on Pickard versus four for Bathurst in the third to end the game up 44-15 overall.
Jakub Zboril's power play goal just 2:01 into the game lifted Saint John's confidence and helped them overcome the pesky Titan.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
While Dove-McFalls, Smallman and Zboril were given stars at Harbour Station, Justice Dundas and Mathieu Joseph showed plenty of jump and spunk in creating headaches for the Titan defence. Reilly Pickard turned in another stellar performance for Bathurst.
- Jakub Zboril returned to the line-up in the place of Jason Bell who is nursing a minor lower body injury.
- Forward Adam Marsh (day-to-day with an upper body injury) and defenceman Jack vanBoekel (mono) were unavailable again.
- Boko Imama served the third game of a four game suspension.
- A reported 16 NHL scouts were in attendance at Harbour Station.
The Sea Dogs travel to Cape Breton for a 7 p.m. start on Tuesday. They then return home to face the Charlottetown Islanders Friday at 7:30 p.m.