Friday, March 13, 2015

RECAP: Sea Dogs Lose 8-4

FINAL: Saint John 4, Moncton 8
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

MONCTON - The Moncton Wildcats’ (44-17-0-3) domination of the Saint John Sea Dogs (31-25-3-6) resulted in an 8-4 win Friday evening at the Moncton Coliseum. Moncton also won the infamous Rivalry Cup by winning seven of the nine games between the N.B. rivals this season.  

Despite suffering their third straight loss in the past week, Saint John actually played much better on the night - highlighted by a strong first period. BUT, penalties once again came back to haunt the Sea Dogs as Moncton scored five power play goals. On the plus side, Saint John's power play showed signs of life with three goals in four attempts.    

Conor Garland led Moncton to the win with two goals and two assists to end the night with a league leading 121 points - 19 points up on Danick Martel with four games remaining. Stephen Johnson, Will Bower, Will Smith, Ivan Barbashev, Zachary Malatesta and Lane Cormier added singles for the Wildcats. Jakub Zboril had two power play goals for the Sea Dogs while Mathieu Joseph and Daniel Del Paggio also scored for Saint John.   

The game got off to a bang with fisticuffs between Spencer Smallman and big Jacob Sweeney just 15 seconds in. Sweeney was also assessed a game misconduct for removing Smallman's helmet. At 16:36 of a fast paced first period, Joseph stole the puck in the right face-off circle, spun and wired a wrist shot over Alex Dubeau's shoulder to open the scoring. On a power play at 19:37, Johnson tipped a lovely feed from Dominic Talbot-Tassi past Sebastien Auger to tie the game at 1-1 after one. Saint John led 13-12 on the shot clock.

At 4:26 of a wild second period, Barbashev intercepted an errant pass deep in the Sea Dogs zone and his back door pass was tapped in by Garland to give Moncton a 2-1 lead. Just over three minutes later, Bower - a Saint John native - bulled his way to the front of the net and poked the puck past Auger as he was being knocked down to make it 3-1. 

On a power play at 12:25 of the second, Zboril took a nice saucer pass from Adam Marsh and ripped a wrist shot over Dubeau's glove to cut the lead to 3-2. Just over a minute later, on the same power play, Del Paggio tied the game at 3-3 when he snapped a back door pass from Joseph past Dubeau. 

However, in a span of 43 seconds, Garland drew three straight penalties against Saint John and the vaunted Wildcats power play went to work five on three. At 15:18, Smith one-timed a cross-ice pass from Talbot-Tassi past Auger to make it 4-3. Garland had the secondary assist. Then at 16:57, Garland's blast from the high slot beat a screened Auger to extend Moncton's lead to 5-3. Moncton out shot the Sea Dogs 12-10 in the second period.

On a power play at 3:16 of the third period, Zboril's hard wrist shot from the point eluded Dubeau to bring the Sea Dogs back to 5-4. But just over a minute later, Barbashev stole the puck at the Wildcats' blue line, broke away all alone and beat Auger on a nice deke to his backhand to restore Moncton's two-goal lead at 6-4.  

On another power play at 13:42, Malatesta took a nice feed from Garland in the slot and snapped a shot just past Auger's ear to give the Wildcats a 7-4 lead. Cormier added a fifth power play goal with 12 seconds left - to make the final score 8-4 - and then all hell broke loose as the frustrated Sea Dogs responded to taunting from the Wildcats with two fights and multiple misconduct penalties. Moncton had 16 shots against 11 for Saint John in the third to end the game up 40-34 overall.

Just after the Sea Dogs had tied the game at 3-3 late in the second period, the Sea Dogs ill-fated attempts to rattle Conor Garland came back to cost Saint John dearly as Garland had a hand in the two resulting five-on-three power play goals.

Conor Garland was at the centre of the action all night long.

  • Saint John fell to three points behind the Sherbrooke Phoenix for eighth place. But the Sea Dogs closest pursuers for ninth - Charlottetown, Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda - also lost Friday evening.
  • With Saint John holding Drummondville's 2015 first round draft choice - acquired for Olivier LeBlanc - the Sea Dogs need just a one point loss by the Voltigeurs (or a one point gain by Victoriaville) to guarantee a coin toss for the first overall selection in the upcoming QMJHL Entry Draft.
  • Ross Yates decided to give young defencemen Luke Green and Jason Bell a night off, which allowed Bailey Webster and Braydon Blight to return to the lineup.  
  • Forward Mark Tremaine missed the game due to strep throat and with Boko Imama serving the second game of his two-game suspension, Adam Marsh (illness) also returned to the starting lineup.   
  • Even with the teams facing each other nine times, Moncton announcer Gerry Green appears to have issues with names, such as Spencer small-WOOD, Jack Van B-awe-kul and Jakub S-barrel.
  • Conor Garland and Ivan Barbashev may be the two fittest players in the QMJHL as they routinely play shifts of between two and three minutes, including virtually every second of most power plays. 


The Sea Dogs play their final home game of the regular season when they host the Halifax Mooseheads tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 p.m.

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