Saturday, April 8, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 2-1 (OT)

FINAL: Val-d'Or 1, Saint John 2 (OT)
Lorne Webster | SN Staff 

SAINT JOHN – Samuel Dove-McFalls scored at 9:58 of overtime to lead the top ranked Saint John Sea Dogs to a 2-1 win over the Val-d'Or Foreurs at Harbour Station Friday evening.

With the victory, Saint John takes a 1-0 second round series lead over the 14th-ranked visitors. 

Foreurs backstop Etienne Montpetit turned in arguably the best goaltending performance seen in Saint John in many years - quite possibly the most impressive display ever at Harbour Station - with 66 high quality saves. At the other end, Callum Booth was credited with 13 saves - but a few were clutch stops which allowed the Sea Dogs to earn the win.

The Sea Dogs controlled much of the play throughout the night but a series of close calls - including a couple of iron - and the aforementioned goalie clinic put on by Montpetit made for an exciting playoff match. Alexis Pepin staked Val-d'Or to a 1-0 lead after two periods. And Spencer Smallman's third period power play marker tied the contest for Saint John.

  • Pepin opened the scoring at 3:25 of the second period when a turnover in the Sea Dogs zone ended up in the slot and the Foreurs' overager one-timed a snapshot to the top corner just over Booth's trapper.
  • Minutes after Pepin's goal, former Foreurs star Julien Gauthier appeared to have an open net but Montpetit extended to make an amazing toe save instead.
  • While shorthanded late in the second, Mathieu Joseph had a breakaway but was foiled by Val-d'Or's "little mountain."
  • With 3:30 left in the second, Bokondji Imama got a shot past Montpetit but it rang loudly off the far post.
  • Gauthier was robbed again in close with about 30 seconds left in the second.
  • On a power play at 6:46 of the third - a mere seven seconds after Pepin was called for an attempt to separate Gauthier's head from his body with a violent elbow - Matthew Highmore sent a crisp cross crease pass to a hard charging Smallman, who snapped the puck behind Montpetit.
  • On the shift following Smallman's goal, Nathan Noel ripped a shot of the crossbar. The play was later reviewed and deemed to have stayed out.
  • The Sea Dogs' penalty kill was back to work late in the third and nearly connected twice for goals. First, Noel was thwarted on a breakaway, and then, Highmore's tip of a Jakub Zboril cross ice pass was stopped.
  • With under three minutes remaining in regulation, Imama was the next breakaway victim of the Montpetit Show.
  • Val-d'Or did not register a shot on goal in the final frame until Booth was called upon to make a nice close save on a blast form the point with ten seconds left.
  • In the opening minute of overtime, both Highmore and Joe Veleno had tips that skinned by the outside of the post behind Montpetit. Then, Booth was called upon to make a huge save off a two-on-one the other way.
  • For the winning goal, Dove-McFalls finished off a lovely four-way passing play as he took a cross-ice backhand pass from Noel and knifed the puck just over Montpetit's blocker to seal the win.

Landon Quinney (appendicitis) and Oliver Felixson (upper body) were unable to play. Samuel Leblanc, David Comeau and Ian Smallwood were healthy scratches.

Samuel Dove-McFalls' game winner on the Sea Dogs' 68th shot of the game.

1. Montpetit, Etienne
2. Etienne Montpetit
3. Samuel Dove-McFalls

Saint John and Val-d'Or meet again Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station for Game 2 of their best-of-seven quarterfinal series.

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