Saturday, January 30, 2016

RECAP: Sea Dogs Win 5-3

FINAL Saint John 5, Rimouski 3
By Lorne Webster | SN Staff

RIMOUSKI, PQ - The Saint John Sea Dogs traveled to the home of the defending Presidents Cup champions on Friday night and came away with a 5-3 win over the Rimouski Oceanic.    

The win extended the Sea Dogs' string of games with at least one point to 13 (11-0-2-0) and allowed Saint John to pull within three points of the idle Moncton Wildcats - with two games in hand - for first place in the Maritimes Division. The Sea Dogs also moved six points ahead of Rimouski for sixth overall in the QMJHL.

Spencer Smallman led the way with two goals while Daniel Del Paggio, Matt Murphy (in his 300th QMJHL game) and Mathieu Joseph also scored for Saint John. Samuel Laberge, Antoine Dufort-Plante and Deven St-Hilaire replied for Rimouski.  

1st Period
A tight checking first period would end in a scoreless draw as both Marc-Antoine Turcotte and Louis-Philip Guindon were especially sharp in goal for Saint John and Rimouski, respectively.

2nd Period
Power play goals were in abundance in the second period. Smallman opened the scoring on a power play just 49 seconds in, when his one-timer from the slot beat Guindon through the five-hole. Del Paggio added the Sea Dogs’ second power play goal at 9:58 as he banged in the rebound of a Joe Veleno shot. However, just over a minute later, Laberge snapped a tip pass from Dylan Montcalm past Turcotte to bring Rimouski back within one. Then at 16:15, Dufort-Plante joined the power play brigade with a laser from the bottom of the left face-off circle to even the contest at 2-2. An apparent Saint John goal seconds later was waved off due to incidental contact with Guindon.  
3rd Period
In spite of a few calls in favour of the hosts, Saint John pretty much controlled the play in the third period. Murphy put Saint John back in front at 6:21 when his snap shot off a lovely saucer pass from Veleno beat Guindoin. Just over a minute later, Joseph took a stretch pass from Matthew Highmore and scored on a deke off the ensuing breakaway. At 15:25, Smallman's shot from in close banked off a sliding Simon Bourque and past Guindon to extend Saint John's lead to 5-2. At 17:20, St-Hilaire's shot off a two-on-one beat Turcotte to set the final score at 5-3.  

  • Congrats to Matt Murphy for playing in his 300th game in the QMJHL. Per the Sea Dogs' official Twitter account, Murphy is only the 40th defencemen to reach this milestone - joining former Sea Dogs Kevin Gagne and Pascal Amyot in a relatively exclusive club.
  • Nathan Noel extended his point streak to a league-leading 13 games. However, line mate Sam Povorozniouk had his goal-scoring streak snapped at seven games. For any superstitious readers, Station Nation's editor may have cursed "Povo" by mentioning the streak in his pre-game report (Ed. Note: I issued an apology in advance, so…)
  • With Luke Green in transit from Vancouver following a strong performance in last night's CHL Top Prospects Game, the Sea Dogs welcomed Oliver Felixson back into the line-up on defence. The Finnish import had missed the past seven games with an upper body injury.
  • The Sea Dogs are inching ever closer to a full line-up. Bokondji Imama served the final game of his 15-game suspension, resulting from the infamous "Bent Incident" in Halifax in mid-December. Bailey Webster and Adam Marsh remain sidelined with upper body injuries and did not travel with the team this weekend. In absence of specific information from the Sea Dogs, it seems that Marsh may be closest to returning to the active roster.  
  • The Oceanic are a model franchise in the QMJHL. After losing to the Sea Dogs in the 2012 Presidents Cup finals, the Oceanic were able to quickly retool and earn a well deserved victory over the Quebec Remparts in a seven game final last spring.
  • Elsewhere in the Maritimes Division on Friday - HAL 1, BAT 4 / CBSE - 2, CHA - 4.

Back-to-back goals by Matt Murphy and Mathieu Joseph - roughly one minute apart - early in the third period proved to be the difference in this battle.

Big Beau Rusk (6'5" and 224 lbs) lowered the boom on Cole Reginato in the first period but the Sea Dogs’ spark plug was up and back at it quickly.  

Matt Murphy 
Spencer Smallman 
Antoine Dufort-Plante 

The Sea Dogs move on to Bathurst to face the Titan on Saturday at 7 p.m. 

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