Monday, September 25, 2023

Leaver making strong first impression

Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
Two games into the Saint John Sea Dogs' 2023-24 season, goaltender Patrick Leaver has likely been the team's best player.

Leaver, who signed as a free agent a few weeks ago, made 37 saves in his QMJHL debut on Friday, a 6-4 Sea Dogs victory over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Then on Saturday he followed that up with a 51-save shootout loss to the Titan.

The overage netminder faced the most shots (95) and made the most saves (88) of any goaltender in the league over the weekend.

While Leaver has been impressive, Saint John's defensive play certainly needs some work. The team went with seven defensemen in both games this weekend but the unit, which is supposed to be a strength of this year's team, struggled at times against Bathurst.

There's certainly plenty of time to work on defense — and getting a healthy Matteo Mann into the lineup sometime next month will be a big (literally) boost as well.

  • Vince Elie, Eriks Mateiko and Pavel Simek each scored twice on the weekend. If Elie can consistently produce this season, it would be a huge help to Saint John's offense.
  • Peter Reynolds, in his first weekend as Sea Dogs captain, had three assists.
  • Mathis Gauthier was a team best +3.
  • At the time of this writing, Bathurst's Alexandre Lallier is the only player to receive a suspension from Saturday's rough stuff. Lallier has been suspended one game for instigating his fight against Noah Reinhart.
  • After watching Saturday's rough stuff, there's definitely going to be some confusion (and interpretation) around the new fighting rules. It was quite clear as well that players will do everything to keep their gloves on during scrums.
  • This was Reinhart's first career QMJHL fight.

The Sea Dogs are back in action on Friday and Saturday when they host the Cape Breton Eagles. Cape Breton was outscored 13-1 in back-to-back home losses to the Moncton Wildcats this past weekend.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

New numbers for new faces

Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
There are new faces in the Saint John Sea Dogs lineup this season — but also some new numbers.

Reid Calder is the first player in franchise history to wear No. 73 while Mathis Gauthier is the first to wear No. 65.

Kency Pierre-Noel, when he makes his playing debut, will become the first Sea Dog to wear No. 81. Matteo Mann, who is nursing an injury while attending Philadelphia Flyers camp, will be the first to wear No. 76.

Here's a quick look at some of the other new numbers.

  • No. 1 — Plenty of goaltenders have worn Patrick Leaver's number over the years. Thomas Couture was the most recent.
  • No. 6 — Matthew MacLean is the first player to sport the number since Jordan Spadafore in 2019-20.
  • No. 8 — Tristan Dassylva's number has been well worn in recent years. Cole Burbidge, Carter McCluskey and Hunter Gartley are all recent players to wear No. 8.
  • No. 27 — Benjamin Amyot's number was most recently used by Connor Trenholm. Some big names have worn it in the past: Scott Howes, Mike Hoffman and Oliver Cooper.
  • No. 30 — Justin Robinson's number was last worn by goaltender Matthew Williams. Surprisingly, this number hasn't been worn a lot over the years. Alex Fournier is the games leader (72).
  • No. 43 — Egan Beveridge is just the third Sea Dog to wear the number. David Mosher and Alexandre Lafreniere each wore it for two games.
  • No. 79 — Luka Benoit is just the second player to wear the number, joining goaltender Marco Cousineau. Benoit wore the same number last season.
  • No. 86 — Danny Akkouche remains the only player to wear this number in team history.
  • No. 88 — Chad Bellemare joins Maxime Cajkovic as the only players to wear the number.

While the Sea Dogs do not have any retired numbers, it's always worth mentioning this as well: Alex Grant's No. 20, Mike Thomas' No. 17 and Jonathan Huberdeau's No. 11 have not been worn since these players departed.

Recap: Sea Dogs lose 4-3 (SO)

FINAL: Bathurst 4, Saint John 3 (SO)
Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs

SAINT JOHN - A 51-save performance from Patrick Leaver wasn't quite enough as the Saint John Sea Dogs fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Saturday at TD Station.

Leaver kept the Sea Dogs in the game at times as Bathurst heavily outshot Saint John for much of the night. Shots ended 54-26 in favour of the Titan which included 18-7 and 24-9 shot advantages in the first and second periods, respectively. 

Despite the lopsided shot total, the Sea Dogs very well could have won this game. Saint John was able to take advantage of some of their quality scoring chances but the puck simply didn't roll their way on quite a few others.

Milos Roelens, Donovan Arsenault and Louis-Francois Belanger scored for Bathurst. Josh Fleming made 23 saves in the win.

Nate Tivey, Pavel Simek and Vince Elie scored for Saint John.

The Titan were pressing late in the first period and were finally rewarded at 14:53 when Roelens scored to put the visitors up 1-0. 

Tivey got Saint John on the board at 4:49 of the second period. The defenseman crossed the blue line,  accepted the puck from Eriks Mateiko and wired a hard wrist shot under the crossbar and in to make it a 1-1 game.

Arsenault quickly put Bathurst back in front at 6:42. Joseph Henneberry was along the backboards and fed Arsenault in the circle who beat Leaver with a quick one-time shot.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Notebook: It's (home) opening night

Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs will play their first of 34 regular season home games tonight at TD Station — and there will be a special guest in attendance.

The Sea Dogs announced Friday that wrestling legend Bret "The Hitman" Hart will be at the game. Hart does have a connection to junior hockey with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen having been named in his honour (Hart was one of the original investors in the team).
There will also be a special offer available at the game. Fans can stop by Sea Dogs Central and purchase a $50 Sea Dogs store gift card that will include $50 worth of free 50/50 tickets. There are a limited quantity of gift cards available.

There will also be some new concession offerings to check out — including Maestro Fresh Wes inspired backbone sliders.
Puck drop between the Sea Dogs and Acadie-Bathurst Titan is 7 p.m.

Newly acquired defenseman Matteo Mann will be unavailable for the Sea Dogs longer than expected.

Mann was likely going to miss the start of the season while attending Philadelphia Flyers rookie and training camp but an injury will sideline the big defender even longer. Postmedia (paywall) reported this week that Mann will miss all of September and much of October with a shoulder injury he suffered at Flyers rookie camp.

Mann was acquired by the Sea Dogs from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in late August but did not appear in any pre-season games with Saint John.

Game Day 2: vs Titan

- After starting the season with a road victory last night, the Saint John Sea Dogs return home looking for a similar result.

The Sea Dogs host the Acadie-Bathurst Titan tonight at 7 p.m. at TD Station to open up the club's home schedule. The two teams met last night at the KC Irving Regional Centre where Saint John skated away with a 6-4 victory.

Saint John's returning players played a key role in the victory, recording four of the six goals. The Sea Dogs led from the second period onward but struggled to pull away from the Titan.

Tickets for tonight's game are just $7 plus taxes and fees.

TV/Radio/Stream: None/Sea Dogs Radio/CHL TV

2023-24 regular season records: The Sea Dogs are 1-0-0-0 for two points (third Maritimes/fourth Eastern/sixth QMJHL) while the Titan are 0-1-0-0 for no points (fourth Maritimes/seventh Eastern/11th QMJHL).

2023 pre-season records: The Sea Dogs were 3-3-0-0 for six points while the Titan were 4-3-0-0 for eight points.

2022-23 regular season records: The Sea Dogs finished 24-38-5-1 for 54 points (fifth Maritimes/ninth Eastern/15th QMJHL) while the Titan were 20-40-5-3 for 48 points (sixth Maritimes/10th Eastern/18th QMJHL).

Last games: The Sea Dogs defeated the Titan 6-4 last night in Bathurst. Eriks Mateiko scored twice while Vince Elie, Pavel Simek, Tristan Dassylva and Egan Beveridge added singles. Emile Perron, Donovan Arsenault, Milo Roelens and Joseph Henneberry all scored for Bathurst. Patrick Leaver made 37 stops in the win. Josh Fleming made 20 saves in the loss.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Recap: Sea Dogs win 6-4

FINAL: Saint John 6, Bathurst 4
Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
BATHURST - The Saint John Sea Dogs' returning players stepped up in their season opener on Friday.

Eriks Mateiko scored twice while Vince Elie and Pavel Simek added singles in Saint John's 6-4 victory over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at the KC Irving Regional Centre. Tristan Dassylva, who appeared in just one game last season, and rookie Egan Beveridge also scored in the victory.

Overage goaltender Patrick Leaver, making his QMJHL debut, made 37 stops in the win.

Saint John took the lead early in the second period and never trailed again. They struggled to pull away from the Titan though and went back-and-forth on scoring for much of the night. These two should play fairly even games against one another this year and Friday's game was certainly an indicator of that.

Emile Perron, Donovan Arsenault, Milo Roelens and Joseph Henneberry all scored for Bathurst. Josh Fleming made 20 stops in the loss.