FINAL: Saint John 4, Moncton 1
MONCTON - In a battle of division rivals recently headed in opposite directions, the Saint John Sea Dogs traveled to the Moncton Coliseum on Wednesday and came away with a 4-1 win over the Wildcats.
The win extended the Sea Dogs' string of games with at least one point to 15 (13-0-2-0) and allowed Saint John to leapfrog Moncton for first place in the Maritimes Division - and earn the third seed in the QMJHL playoff race. The loss extended Moncton’s winless streak to six games (0-5-1-0) - which came on the heels of an impressive 10-0-1-0 run following a 6-2 loss to Saint John in their last matchup on Dec. 9.
Daniel Del Paggio led the way with two goals while Sam Povorozniouk and Nathan Noel added singles for Saint John. Kelly Klima replied for Moncton.
Klima opened the scoring on a power play at 8:39 - a moment after Saint John failed to convert on a pair of shorthanded two-on-one opportunities - when he took a cross ice pass from Conor Garland and ripped a wrist shot over Marc-Antoine Turcotte's shoulder.
BREAKING: Conor Garland is skilled. pic.twitter.com/aiTNTXPFgh— Jamie Tozer (@station_nation) February 3, 2016
Saint John had a number of quality scoring opportunities in the first period but could not get a puck past former Sea Dog Blade Mann-Dixon.
Moncton controlled much of the first half of the second period against a sluggish looking crew from Saint John. Bad blood between the teams was evident with a pair of fights as Lane Cormier and Nico Blachman and then Zachary Malatesta and Kyle Ward exchanged pleasantries. While shorthanded just past the 12-minute mark, Will Smith was assessed a major after he steamrolled Turcotte.
Will Smith runs over Turcotte. Yikes. pic.twitter.com/34d50D2Uri— Jamie Tozer (@station_nation) February 4, 2016
Turcotte required assistance from the trainers of both teams and was replaced in goal by Alex Bishop. On the ensuing power play at 12:38, Povorozniouk one-timed a cross crease pass from Mathieu Joseph over an outstretched Mann-Dixon to tie the game 1-1.
Just past the nine-minute mark of a tight checking third period, Bokondji Imama rang a heavy wrist shot off the left post while on a partial breakaway. At 10:17, Del Paggio finished off a lovely three-way passing play with Joseph and Matthew Highmore with a wrist shot past Mann-Dixon. At 17:36, Noel unleashed a laser from the right side to the top corner short side. And at 18:47, Luke Green broke up a play in front of Bishop, carried the puck all the way into Moncton's zone and fed Del Paggio for an empty net goal to make it 4-1.
- QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau was in attendance.
- Saint John cracked the CHL Top 10 list this week, placing 10th. Other QMJHL teams in the top 10 are Val-d'Or (2), Rouyn-Noranda (3) and Shawinigan (8). Gatineau earned an honourable mention.
- The Sea Dogs welcomed Sam Dove-McFalls back after he missed Saturday's game in Bathurst. However, both Spencer Smallman and Thomas Chabot suffered upper body injuries in Saturday’s game and were unable to play on Wednesday. Bailey Webster and Adam Marsh remain sidelined with long term upper body injuries. Ian Smallwood was called up from the Saint John Vito’s but did not play.
- The Wildcats were missing Manuel Wiederer (suspension - 4/5), Kevin Klima (upper body), as well as Saint John natives William Bower (lower body) and Marcus Tesink.
- Elsewhere in the Maritimes Division on Wednesday - SHA 7, CHA 3.
Daniel Del Paggio's first of two goals, early in the third period, proved to be the game winner.
HIT OF THE GAME
Early in the third period, Daniel Del Paggio leveled Conor Garland as Moncton's star was admiring a cross ice pass. Del Paggio was assessed a penalty for interference for the hit, which sent Garland directly to the dressing room.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Daniel Del Paggio
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
The Sea Dogs return to Harbour Station on Friday to face the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at 7:30 pm.