FINAL: Rouyn-Noranda 5, Saint John 1
SAINT JOHN – The defending President’s Cup champions from Rouyn-Noranda earned a season split with Saint John by beating the Sea Dogs 5-1 in a hard fought contest at Harbour Station Saturday evening.
Evan MacKinnon, Peter Abbandonato, Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Gabriel Fontaine and Jeremy Diotte had the goals for the Huskies and Samuel Harvey made 29 saves. Nathan Noel was the lone Sea Dog to score in this game. Alex Bishop and Alex D'Orio combined for 25 saves.
- As part of the Rogers Hometown Hockey celebrations in Saint John this weekend, Tara Slone - Canadian rock vocalist and television personality - and Todd Hlushko - former Saint John Flame (where he was a teammate of Sea Dogs coach Jeff Cowan) and Team Canada player - dropped the ceremonial puck to kick-off the contest.
- Cole Reginato and Samuel Naud were ejected early in the first period for what the officials deemed to be a "staged" fight.
- Rouyn-Noranda did not register their first shot on goal until 10:54 of the first period. But the Huskies opened the scoring at 14:58 when MacKinnon - a 16 year-old rookie and former Dartmouth Major Midgets star - scored his first QMJHL goal off a backhand shot that squeaked past Bishop.
- Bokondji Imama delivered the hit of the game late in the first when he plastered Huskies super pest Mathieu Boucher into the side boards with a hard, clean body check just outside the blue line.
- Abbandonato banged a rebound through Bishop's legs at 4:05 of the second. And Beaudin one-timed a turnover past Bishop just over three minutes later to end the Sea Dogs senior goalie's night. Rookie netminder Alex D'Orio was called upon immediately after the Huskies third goal.
- Seconds after Bailey Webster stopped a shot mere inches before crossing the goal line during a penalty kill, Luke Green was sprung for a breakaway as he left the box but the Winnipeg Jets prospect was stoned by Harvey.
- At 14:55, Fontaine finished off a nice three-way passing play as he knifed a backhand deflection past D'Orio to extend Rouyn-Noranda's lead to 4-0.
- The Sea Dogs got on the board during a power play at 16:50 of the second when Noel banged the rebound of a Luke Green blast past Harvey. The Sea Dogs were buzzing after Noel's goal but went into the second intermission down 4-1.
- The Huskies showed why they are ranked among the top teams in the CHL with a solid, tight checking performance, especially throughout the third period. Both Harvey and D'Orio made several huge saves during the final frame as well.
- Diotte's point shot deflected off something in front of D'Orio with just over three minutes remaining to set the final score at 5-1 for the visitors.
- Both teams were missing key players for this game. Thomas Chabot, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Jacob Neveau, Joe Veleno and Alexandre Fortin were all unavailable.
- Many observers are expecting Rouyn-Noranda and Saint John to meet in either the semifinals or finals next spring. If so, a series between these two teams could be epic.
- According to reports out of Ottawa, Sea Dogs star defenceman Thomas Chabot took the warmup with the Senators on Saturday night - but Chabot was a healthy scratch once again ... tick, tock, tick, tock ...
- Huskies rookie defenceman Chris McQuaid is the younger brother of former Sea Dogs defenceman Alex McQuaid, as well as the cousin of Boston Bruin Adam McQuaid.
- Both teams - especially their coaches - grew increasingly frustrated as referees Maurice LeBlanc and Tim Hamel allowed numerous cheap shots and late hits to go unpenalized.
Smallman - Highmore - Joseph
Dove-McFalls - Noel - LeBlanc
Imama – Pare - Green
Reginato - Quinney - Ward
Bernier - Green
Martineau – Webster
Michel - Stewart
SCRATCHES: Thomas Chabot (Ottawa Senators); Jakub Zboril and Oliver Felixson (flu); John Warren and Joe Veleno (injuries); plus Zach Grzelewski.
A pair of goals - just over three minutes apart, early in the second period - by Abbandonato and Beaudin, took much of the wind out of the sails of the Sea Dogs.
SN PLAYERS OF THE GAME
1. Samuel Harvey
2. Gabriel Fontaine
3. Nathan Noel
TWEET OF THE GAME
With Todd Hlushko, the mayor, and the big dog! #hometownhockey #saintjohn #fleaburn #SeaDogs pic.twitter.com/0jEroy65I4— Tara Slone (@TaraSlone) October 22, 2016
The Sea Dogs host the Charlottetown Islanders on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in a battle for first in the Maritimes Division.