Sunday, April 23, 2017

Playoff feel finally arrives at Harbour Station

First of all, what a game last night.

The Saint John Sea Dogs' playoff run has no doubt lacked some drama and excitement. But last night's match, which saw the Sea Dogs' two-goal lead erased and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens eventually win in double overtime, certainly makes up for a lot of the blowouts the earlier rounds featured.

The Sagueneens looked like the team that upset the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the second round last night. This series could get even more interesting as it shifts to the big Chicoutimi ice this week.

Saint John got off to a solid start in Game 2. Even though shots were just 10-9 in favour of the Sea Dogs in the first period, Saint John was definitely the better team and looked like they might cruise to another win.

But then the second period started.

Chicoutimi came out flying in the second. Saint John didn't record a shot on goal until the midway point of the period, and it was the first time this post-season the Sea Dogs have really been pushed by the opposition for any significant amount of time. It's probably been overstated by now, but this is probably a good thing overall. If Saint John is going to win the league, they'll be pushed at some point. They might as well figure out how to deal with it now.

The Sea Dogs rebounded in the second half of the middle stanza, and the rest of the game was back-and-forth. It was fantastic. Both goaltenders, Julia Billia and Callum Booth, were phenomenal, each facing over 50 shots.

The game wasn't without controversy, though. Both Sagueneens regulation goals were scored by Joey Ratelle, who probably should have been suspended for this game following a hit to the head on Mathieu Joseph in Game 1. According to a source, Ratelle wasn't suspended because Joseph was leaning in to get the puck.
Ratelle scored his first goal on a power play at 6:28 of the second period and then tied the game on a controversial goal at 15:39 of the third. The tying goal went off Ratelle's skate and in, but there was deemed to be no kicking motion.

Here's the in-house view of the goal:
And here's an angle from Rogers TV:
The review was quite quick under the circumstances, but I'm not sure what kind of angles the replay people had. If they just had the normal angle, then it makes sense (the play was probably out of view of the overhead camera). But, geez, if people watching the league's webcast have more angles than the the review officials...

Either way, the Sagueneens played well enough to earn a tie and eventually a double overtime win. Ratelle had a few good chances throughout the remainder of the game - including a couple in overtime - but could not score.

A few other things from this game:
  • Despite going all the way to double overtime, the Sea Dogs did not have a single power play, which is incredible. You have to give credit to the Sags for playing disciplined, but no power plays in this long of a game is incredible.
  • Chicoutimi went 3/5 on the power play, which is also incredible. Before the game, the Sea Dogs had allowed just one power play goal against in the entire playoffs.
  • Mathieu Joseph and Matthew Highmore have points in every playoff game so far this year.
  • Julien Gauthier extended his goal scoring streak to five games.
  • Game 5 is now needed, which will be played on Friday at Harbour Station.
  • This game felt a lot like Game 1 of the 2012 final between the Sea Dogs and Rimouski Oceanic. Saint John jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, the Oceanic went on to tie it and the game eventually went to double overtime. The Dogs won that game, though.
  • There's all kinds of theories being thrown around from fans about the league not wanting an all Maritimes final. Something to think about: couldn't the league benefit a lot from an all Maritimes final? The league could certainly use some added attention in the Maritimes, especially in the PEI market.
  • Playoff hockey is fun.
Saint John wasn't the only team who had a frustrating night. The Charlottetown Islanders lost their first game of the playoffs, falling 5-4 to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Isles had just 19 shots on goal.
The Sea Dogs, Islanders and Seattle Thunderbirds were the lone CHL teams without a loss entering play last night. All three lost.

All but one series in the CHL is now tied 1-1. The Mississauga Steelheads currently lead the Peterborough Petes 2-0, although the winner of that series will be a massive underdog against whoever wins the West.


  1. They definitely committed penalties, they just were not called. There were several that affected scoring chances as well.

  2. Second goal was definitely a good goal. I didnt see a distinct kicking motion. Aren't the video goal judges in SJ?