FINAL: Bathurst 4, Saint John 7
By Lorne Webster | SN Staff
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 7-4 Saturday evening at Harbour Station to extend their current winning streak to five games.
In light of Shawinigan's 3-2 shootout win over Quebec on Saturday, the Sea Dogs still hold the third seed in the QMJHL playoff race - with two games in hand over the Cataractes. The win - combined with Moncton's 3-2 loss in Charlottetown - also allowed Saint John to inch closer to securing first place in the Maritimes Division. Two more points for the Sea Dogs - or another loss by Moncton - will ensure that Saint John will earn a top three seed for the playoffs.
Bokondji Imama, Spencer Smallman, Joe Veleno, Daniel Del Paggio, Sam Povorozniouk, Mathieu Joseph and Samuel Dove-McFalls scored for Saint John. Matthew Highmore contributed three assists to lead the Sea Dogs. Emanuel Aucoin had a pair of goals for the visitors. Christophe Boivin and Guillaume Brisebois also replied for Bathurst.
The Sea Dogs got off to a slow start. A few seconds after a successful Titan penalty kill, Boivin capitalized on a turnover when his shot from the top of the umbrella pinballed past Marc-Antoine Turcotte at 4:15. Imama showed some of his offensive skills just past the midpoint of the opening frame. Luke Green stole the puck in the neutral zone and fed Imama, who in turn made a nice inside out deke past a Titan defender and then unloaded a rocket over Reilly Pickard's glove at 10:52. On a power play at 19:01, Smallman one-timed a slap shot off a feed from Veleno that beat Pickard through the five-hole to give Saint John a 2-1 advantage after one.
A wild second period included five goals and a goaltending change by both teams. At 3:34, Aucoin's wrist shot from the right faceoff circle beat Turcotte to the far side just over his pad. Veleno would answer with a lovely move from the right wing boards to the slot and a hard wrist shot past Pickard at 8:14. 26 seconds later, Brisebois flew past a couple of Sea Dogs, took a pass in the slot and wired a wrist shot past Turcotte's blocker. Another 17 seconds later, a turnover ended up on Aucoin's stick in the slot and he quickly snapped the puck past Turcotte. After the Titan's fourth goal, Alex Bishop would replace Turcotte - while Danny Flynn tore a strip off his teammates during a time out. The Sea Dogs tied the game on a five-on-three power play at 11:08 when Del Paggio snapped a rebound over a sprawling Pickard. The Sea Dogs appeared to have scored again at 11:48 but the goal was quickly waved off as Pickard had lost his mask - and was injured - after he had been run over by Nicolas Dumulong during a scramble. Alex Kelly would be called upon to replace Pickard for his first regular season QMJHL action.
The Sea Dogs' power play clicked again at 2:56 of the third when Povorozniouk one-timed a slick saucer pass from Joseph past a sprawling Kelly to give Saint John a 5-4 lead. Following a pair of scraps - between Jakub Zboril and Jeffrey Truchon-Viel and then Cole Reginato and Dumulong - the Sea Dogs would score again at 7:33, when Highmore tipped the rebound of a Luke Green shot to Joseph for a tap in. At 10:44, Dove-McFalls was thwarted on a partial breakaway but curled back into the slot and wired a shot over Kelly's blocker to set the final score at 7-4 for the home team.
- Titan centre - and Rothesay native - Mark Simpson leads the QMJHL in faceoff wins this season. He entered the game with 904 successful draws and ended the night 20/33.
- Early in the second period, Garrett Johnston literally tackled Mathieu Joseph while the Sea Dogs' speedster had a clear path to the goal. Everyone in Harbour Station except the men with orange arm bands felt it should have been called a penalty shot. The referees also created a long delay in the third period while veteran timekeeper, Ron Cooke, had to explain how multiple penalties are supposed to be served and accounted for. #QRefProblems
- Mathieu Joseph has now posted at least one point in each of the Sea Dogs’ last 10 home games.
- One night after a Saint John Mill Rats game, the ice at Harbour Station was not exactly optimum which led to several odd bounces.
- Bailey Webster (long-term upper body), Kyle Ward, Nico Blachman and Gabriel Bettez sat out Saturday's contest.
- Former Sea Dog Jason Bell did not dress for Bathurst.
- 5,367 fans attended Country Night at Harbour Station. The Sea Dogs' 50-50 winner took home over $7,000.
A goaltending change and tongue slashing from Danny Flynn, midway through the second period, lit a fire under the Sea Dogs and they responded with four unanswered goals.
HIT OF THE GAME
Early in the third period, Jakub Zboril stood up Jeffrey Truchon-Viel and the Titan responded with a nasty cross check, which led to the game winning goal on the ensuing power play.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The Sea Dogs travel to Charlottetown on Sunday to face the Islanders at 3 p.m.
Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation