HALIFAX – The Saint John Sea Dogs have taken us all on quite a ride these past three years.
If someone had told us in the summer of 2009 that the Sea Dogs would be winning three consecutive regular season titles, we probably would have made some bizarre facial expression and then tossed a drink in their face. But here we are on a Wednesday night in the March of 2012, trying to put what we have witnessed into words.
With Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over the Halifax Mooseheads, the Sea Dogs became the first team in the Quebec Major Hockey Junior League history to win three straight regular season titles. Several teams have won the Jean Rougeau Trophy back-to-back in the past, but no team had ever won it back-to-back-to-back until tonight.
10,595 – the first Mooseheads sell-out at the Halifax Metro Centre in five years – were on hand to witness history. Saint John dominated the game, outshooting Halifax 44-18. It helped erase some of the memories of a rough road trip through Quebec that saw the team drop two consecutive contests and gave the Shawinigan Cataractes some life in the race for first place.
But the Cataractes will not be able to catch Saint John now. The Sea Dogs have a record of 48-15-0-3 for 99 points with two games remaining. The Cataractes have 95 points with two games left to play but will not be able to catch the Dogs in the first tiebreaker.
Saint John will wrap up the regular season this weekend with back-to-back games in Cape Breton. Saint John needs one more point to achieve a third straight 100-point season and two more wins to have a third consecutive 50-win campaign.
The Sea Dogs’ big guns came to play on Wednesday. Ryan Tesink had two goals, Danick Gauthier a goal and two assists, and Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists as well. Charlie Coyle added a goal and assist while Saint John’s other marker came from Grant West.
Mathieu Corbeil made 17 saves for the win. At the other end of the ice, Zach Fucale was pulled after allowing five goals on 33 shots. Marc-Olivier Daigle allowed one goal on six shots in relief.
Halifax’s lone goal came early in the third period when Alexandre Grenier beat Corbeil. That made it a 3-1 game at the time but the Sea Dogs quickly responded with Huberdeau scoring just over a minute later. The Dogs would add two more in the third to make it a 6-1 final.
More on the game tomorrow on the blog. For now, let's enjoy the moment.