Thursday, January 12, 2012

About Tonight's Game

SAINT JOHN – For a Thursday night in January, this is as big as it gets in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Tonight at Harbour Station, two of the QMJHL’s elite teams battle it out as the Saint John Sea Dogs host the Shawinigan Cataractes at 7pm. This is the Cataractes’ final visit to Saint John in the regular season.

Yesterday on Chris Cuthbert’s blog, former Sportsnet junior hockey play-by-play man Peter Loubardias said this.

By the way. Shawinigan plays Saint John tomorrow.  Maybe a precursor of a game to be played on the 27th of May.

May 27th is Jeff Bagwell’s birthday. It’s also the date of the Memorial Cup final.

This game has more storylines than an episode of Modern Family. There’s the whole Memorial Cup hosting thing. The world junior players are all back thing. The Brandon Gormley trade thing. The arrival of Charlie Coyle thing.

Here are several things you need to watch for/follow heading into this evening’s tilt. This is going to be quite a show.

THE TOP LINE: Saint John’s top line is expected to feature Jonathan Huberdeau, Zack Phillips, and Charlie Coyle tonight. These three will play together for the first time, and the trio has the potential to put up unlimited points. All three are first-round NHL draft picks. How well will they play together? We’ll begin to find out tonight.

GORMLEY: It should be interesting to hear the response Brandon Gormley gets this evening from Sea Dogs fans. It shouldn’t be booed during the pre-game world junior ceremony, but after that it's basically fair game.

Gormley will make his Shawinigan debut tonight against a team that tried to make a deal for his services. He’ll join Morgan Ellis on the revamped Cataractes blue line.

KABANOV: To be honest, we often forget Kirill Kabanov even plays for Shawinigan. He’s no longer getting hurt every other day. He’s not stealing peanuts. He’s not getting booted off hockey teams.

The Russian has 14 goals and 16 assists in 26 games with the Cataractes this year. He sits seventh in team scoring.

WORLD JUNIORS: All four QMJHL players who represented Canada at the world juniors will play in this game as Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan Beaulieu take on Brandon Gormley and Michael Bournival. American Charlie Coyle and Slovakia Tomas Jurco also took part. They will all be honoured before the game.

MONDOU: No matter what happens tonight, Shawinigan Cataractes general manager Martin Mondou will have something to say about it – as will the Shawinigan media. If the Cataractes win, prepare to hear the “we are clearly as good as Saint John” rants. If they lose, prepare to hear “our chemistry isn’t that good yet but it will be excellent in May.”

GAUTHIER: Danick Gauthier enters tonight’s game with 33 goals in 43 games. He currently sits second in the league, four goals behind Bathurst’s Zach O’Brien.

Gauthier is also a former Cataracte. He played in one-game with Shawinigan in 2008-09, recording an assist. He was later traded to Saint John in the Alex Grant deal.

THE CROWD: In a perfect world, this game is sold-out a week out. But this world ain’t perfect, and here we are on gameday with plenty of good seats still available. This certainly won’t help with the crowd number, either.

30 ROCK: It returns to NBC tonight at 9pm. No idea how this will affect the outcome of the game. 

WILL THIS SONG BE PLAYED?: A friend told us about this song. Fastforward to around 3:10.

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