Saturday, April 30, 2016

GAME 5 RECAP: Sea Dogs Lose 6-3

FINAL: Saint John 3, Shawinigan 6
By Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs’ season ended with a tough 6-3 loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes on Friday evening at Centre Gervais Auto. The win allowed Shawinigan to win the semifinal series 4-1 and move on to the President Cup final for the first time since 2009.

Sea Dogs players, coaches, management and many fans surely will be disappointed by the result of the semifinal. However, in time, they should find solace in a tremendous run by one of the younger teams in the QMJHL. The future is clearly bright for this group of hard working, resilient players. This team simply refused to quit and, after a couple of tough seasons, learned how to win. 

Veterans Matt Murphy, Sam Povorozniouk and Marc-Antoine Turcotte provided real leadership and guidance. Other than the three overagers, nearly all of the players are expected to return for the 2016-17 season. It would be easy to lament about the loss of NHL prospects Mathieu Joseph and Adam Marsh to season ending injuries. But the experience and maturity gained by up and coming stars such as Joe Veleno, Thomas Chabot, Nathan Noel, Luke Green, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Jakub Zboril et al is invaluable. Also of note, Matthew Highmore, Spencer Smallman, Bokondji Imama and Daniel Del Paggio also have been outstanding and have truly grown into leadership roles this season.

Anthony Beauvillier led Shawinigan to the clinching victory with an impressive two goal, three assist performance. Alex Pawelczyk - with two goals - Dennis Yan and Dmytro Timashov also scored for the Cataractes. Matt Murphy, Joe Veleno and Thomas Chabot replied for Saint John. 

1st Period
The Sea Dogs found themselves in a deep hole early in the contest. Just 44 seconds in, Pawelczyk fired the first dagger when he got the puck past Marc-Antoine Turcotte. The goal was reviewed but determined to be valid. Then on a power play at 5:00, Beauvillier took a cross ice pass from Timashov and fired a laser off the crossbar and into the net behind Turcotte. Head coach Danny Flynn immediately used his time out to rally the Sea Dogs. Midway through the opening frame, Luke Green fired a shot from centre ice which clanked off the crossbar but stayed out. It appeared that the hosts had scored a third goal at 15:26 - but it was disallowed because Pawelczyk was penalized for an illegal screen at the blue line.

2nd Period
Before the 2:00 mark, Turcotte robbed Brandon Gignac in close. On a power play at 4:27, Murphy pounded the rebound of a Jakub Zboril point shot past Philippe Cadorette to cut Shawinigan's lead to 2-1. However, at 5:42, Beauvillier stole the puck near the Sea Dogs goal and sent a one-handed shot through Turcotte's legs. Alex Bishop was called upon to relieve Turcotte immediately after the 3-1 goal. Bishop came up big with a save off a Timashov blast midway through the second frame and then closed the door on a penalty shot attempt by Beauvillier at 12:07. Shortly after the penalty shot, it was Cadorette's turn to make an exceptional stop on Veleno in close. At 13:28, Brandon Gignac split the Sea Dogs defence, made a fine deke and slid the puck to Yan for a tap-in to put the hosts up 4-1 after two. 

3rd Period
The final period got off to a bit of a slow start but the Sea Dogs dug deep and rallied before the midway point. On a power play at 7:36, Veleno tipped a Zboril point shot past Cadorette. And less than a minute later, a heavy forecheck led by Imama and Kyle Ward created a loose puck behind the Cataractes net. Imama sent a crisp backhand pass to Chabot in the slot and the Ottawa Senators prospect ripped a wrister over Cadorette's glove to bring the Dogs back to within one goal. Then, at 8:51 Samuel Blier was given a major penalty for a vicious blindside hit on Veleno. However, a 13:25, Pawelczyk one-timed a cross-ice pass from Beauvillier past Bishop for a huge short handed goal. At 17:30, Timashov turned out the lights with an empty net goal, making it a 6-3 final. 
  • Sea Dog forwards Mathieu Joseph and Adam Marsh, along with defenceman Alex Bernier, remained on the long-term injury list. With Bokondji Imama returning from a seven-game suspension, Jordan King joined Nico Blachman and Gabriel Bettez in the stands.
  • During his post-game radio broadcast, Tim Roszell revealed that Matt Murphy did indeed suffer a separated shoulder in game two. It was sad to see the emotion on Murphy's face after coming to the realization that this would be his final game in a long, impressive career in the QMJHL.
  • After all of the issues surrounding the 2012 Memorial Cup, yours truly wants to really dislike Shawinigan. However, this version of the Cataractes is very skilled, hard working and a relatively disciplined team (notably after the whistle). Fans should expect Saint John and Shawinigan to be at or near the top of the QMJHL again next year as well.  
  • At the risk of proverbially throwing anyone under a bus, the strong goaltending displayed by Philippe Cadorette was a significant difference in this semifinal series. 
  • HORNS!!! Mother of God and all things holy - the fans in Shawinigan love to blow their own horns.
  • In other QMJHL playoff action, the Moncton Wildcats beat the Huskies 2-1 in Rouyn-Noranda to force a game six in Moncton on Sunday. Rouyn-Noranda now leads that series 3-2. 

Anthony Beauvillier's second goal - just over a minute after Matt Murphy had cut Shawinigan's lead to 2-1 - appeared to knock the wind out of the young Sea Dogs. However, it was Alex Pawelczyk's shorthanded goal late in the third period which pretty much took away the last gasp from the gutsy Sea Dogs.

Anthony Beauvillier
Alex Pawelczyk
Joe Veleno

Special Mention - Matt Murphy

We hope to see many of you at the Sea Dogs Alumni Weekend and the start of training camp in August. Please continue to follow Station Nation for Sea Dogs news and information, especially regarding the upcoming QMJHL and NHL drafts.

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