In a game that featured very little defence from either side, the Saint John Sea Dogs fell 8-7 in overtime to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Wednesday night at Harbour Station.
While neither coaching staffs likely enjoyed the game, it was quite an entertaining, wild and back-and-forth hockey game. Momentum shifted quickly several times. Leads were gained. Leads were lost. It was a roller coaster.
There have been some strange meetings between the Sea Dogs and Titan over the past couple seasons, and despite Saint John being statistically better, the team has had its struggles against Bathurst - as was evident tonight. Tonight's loss means the Sea Dogs will lose the season series between the two, even with one meeting remaining.
Bathurst clinched a playoff spot with tonight's win. Winners of six straight, they now sit sixth in the QMJHL with a record of 33-20-3-2. Given how the Titan have been playing lately, they could certainly be a tough playoff opponent for any team.
Nathan Noel had a hat trick for Saint John, Spencer Smallman had two goals and singles came from Bokondji Imama and Thomas Chabot. Callum Booth was pulled after allowing four goals on 21 shots. Alex D'Orio allowed four goals on 22 shots in relief.
Christophe Boivin and Vladimir Kuznetsov each scored twice for Bathurst while singles came from Daniil Miromanov, Joakim Paradis, Felix Boivin and Rodrigo Abols. Anthony Dumont-Bouchard allowed seven goals on 30 shots in the win.
To the notes...
- Smallman opened the scoring just 1:58 in, firing a shot past Dumont-Bouchard and off the bar and in, making it 1-0 Saint John.
- Smallman was called for high sticking at 5:18. On the man advantage at 7:02, a shot was tipped by Miromanov and beat Booth upstairs, making it a 1-1 game.
- Shortly after the Bathurst power play ended, Miromanov carried the puck into the zone but ran into some traffic in the slot. The Titan forward slid the puck over where Kuznetsov was entering the zone, who then beat Booth with a wrist shot, making it 2-1 Bathurst at 9:10.
- With 6:19 left in the first, Paradis fired a shot from the line through some traffic that beat Booth low blocker side, making it 3-1 Bathurst.
- The Titan made it 4-1 at 17:24. Boivin picked up a rebound in close and slid the puck past Booth.
- Saint John had a dreadful first period, allowing four goals and 21 shots. Even with Smallman's four-minute penalty, that's a lot.
- D'Orio started the second period in net.
- Imama got the scoring started in the second. On a power play at 4:06, Saint John's leading goal scorer redirected a shot past Dumont-Bouchard, making it 4-2.
- Saint John quickly made it 4-3 at 6:08. After some nice cycling work by Smallman, the Sea Dogs captain fired a nice pass to Noel who scored into a wide open cage.
- Then at 6:35, Noel scored again, beating Dumont-Bouchard with a wrist shot, tying the game at 4-4.
- Boivin got the Titan back in front at 9:27, beating D'Orio top corner on a breakaway.
- During a five-on-three power play at 18:18, Felix Boivin blasted a slap shot from the high slot past D'Orio, giving Bathurst a 6-4 advantage.
- Just 33 seconds into the third period, Smallman grabbed the puck in front of the net and skated around a down Dumont-Bouchard, sliding it in to make it 6-5.
- On a four-on-three Sea Dogs power play, Chabot fired a bomb from the high slot, making it a 6-6 game at 12:46.
- Then at 13:55, Noel completed the hat trick, giving Saint John a 7-6 advantage.
- But at 15:41 and with D'Orio down on the ice, Kuznetsov was able to find a small hole between the Dogs netminder's leg and the post, making it a 7-7 game.
- With 1:15 remaining, Zachary Malatesta fired a hard shot that beat D'Orio but not the crossbar.
- Abols scored the overtime winner just 13 seconds in as the puck squeaked through D'Orio's pads, giving Bathurst the extra point.
- Saint John wore their black third jerseys.
- Sea Dogs equipment manager David "DK" Kelly returned to the Sea Dogs bench after battling thyroid cancer. He received a nice ovation from the crowd and teams during the first TV timeout.
- Paradis' goal was the first of his QMJHL career.
- Veleno was given a 10-minute misconduct for "abuse of officials" in the third period.
- Smallman (two goals, three assists) and Noel (three goals, two assists) each had five points.
- Chabot had three assists along with a goal.
- The Sea Dogs were outshot for just the ninth time this season.
SCRATCHESHere's tonight's projected #SJSeaDogs lineup, brought to you by @CanterDental. #alwayswearyourmouthguard pic.twitter.com/NW1FpOjO5S— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) February 22, 2017
The Sea Dogs were without Matthew Highmore (upper body), Julien Gauthier (lower body), Landon Quinney (upper body), Alexandre Bernier (healthy) and John Warren (upper body).
Highmore, Saint John's leading scorer, missed his first game of the season.
The overtime goal. This game could have gone either way.
SN THREE STARS
2. Vladimir Kuznetsov
3. Nathan Noel
TWEET OF THE GAME
The Sea Dogs travel to Sydney to take on the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday at 7 p.m.