SHAWINIGAN, Que. – The Saint John Sea Dogs are very much alive at the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions were the final team at this year’s tournament to collect a victory, beating the Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings 5-2 on Monday night at Centre Bionest in Shawinigan. The Sea Dogs win means every team is 1-1 for the first time in Memorial Cup history (under the current tournament format).
It wasn’t a perfect game by the Sea Dogs but it was much better than their game on Saturday night against the London Knights. Saint John did a lot of things well on Monday in what was basically a must-win game.
The game was tied 1-1 after one but the Sea Dogs led 3-2 after two. They added two more – with one being an empty net goal – in the third period.
Zack Phillips had a pair of goals while singles came from Jonathan Huberdeau, Danick Gauthier, and Ryan Tesink. Charlie Coyle had two assists. It’s safe to say the big boys came to play on this night after struggling in their tournament opener.
Despite being criticized by Sportsnet analyst John Garrett all night long, Mathieu Corbeil made several key saves. He stopped 25 shots for his first career Memorial Cup win.
Edmonton’s goals came from Kristians Pelss and Stephane Legault. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 29 stops in the loss.
With the Sea Dogs winning tonight, it makes things a whole lot more interesting. Saint John can earn an automatic berth in the final if Edmonton wins tomorrow and the Sea Dogs win on Wednesday. No matter what happens tomorrow, with a tie-breaker game now required, a win on Wednesday is vital.
Saint John got off to a good start as Zack Phillips fired a shot from the side boards that surprised Laurent Brossoit and got past him to make it 1-0 Saint John at 4:23.
Edmonton headed to the power play at 5:37 as Devon Oliver-Dares headed off. The Kings had some good pressure on and then they tied things up at 7:03. Kristians Pelss deflected a shot in to make it a 1-1 game. The play was reviewed but it was a good goal.
Soon after that, Ryan Tesink swept the puck on goal but stayed out.
The Oil Kings went to another power play at 9:41 but couldn’t get much going. Saint John then headed to the man advantage 14:05 but did nothing. Soon after, Charles Roussel put a big hit on Curtis Lazar behind the net.
At 19:48, Nathan Beaulieu took a dumb slashing penalty to give Edmonton a power play to start the second.
Shots were 7-6 Edmonton in the first period
Edmonton getting couldn’t get anything going on the power play that carried over so it remained tied. When Beaulieu came out of the box he entered the zone and made a spin pass to Tomas Jurco but he sent it wide. A few moments later, Danick Gauthier ripped a shot off the post.
Saint John took a 2-1 lead at 4:42. Jonathan Huberdeau was sprung on a breakaway and he made no mistake, performing his usual move to beat Brossoit and give the Dogs the lead.
The Sea Dogs kept the pressure on after the goal. A rebound went to Jurco who fired a shot on net that was stopped nicely by the Edmonton netminder.
The Dogs went to another power play at 6:27. They had some good puck movement but no good chances.
Some four-on-four play took place at 11:33 after some rough stuff. At 12:21, the Dogs headed to a four-on-three man advantage. They had a few chances but couldn’t connect.
The Dogs took a 3-1 lead at 15:53. Charlie Coyle was near the side boards and centered the puck. Danick Gauthier got a piece of it while streaking in to give Saint John a 3-1 advantage.
The Oil Kings would respond, though. They made it a 3-2 game at 16:56 as Stephane Legault went around an out-of-position Mathieu Corbeil and slid the disc in. Edmonton had a couple of great chances following the goal but Corbeil made the stops.
Danick Gauthier headed to the box at 18:15. But Keegan Lowe face washed Ryan Tesink after the buzzer to give Saint John a power play in the third period.
Shots were 14-10 Saint John in the third.
Corbeil flipped the puck out of play just 49 seconds in so that ended the Saint John power play. During the four-on-four, Stanislav Galiev was stopped on a break.
Edmonton headed to the man advantage at 7:41 but once again struggled to get much going.
A little later on, Rhett Rachinski collected a rebound and fired a shot directly into Corbeil’s chest. Soon after, Lazar wired a shot that just missed the top corner.
Saint John made it a 4-2 contest at 18:23. Jurco was behind the net and sent a perfect pass in front to Phillips who netted his second of the game to add some insurance.
Ryan Tesink scored into the empty Edmonton goal with five seconds left to make it a 5-2 final.
Shots were 14-10 in favour of the Dogs in the third.
Saint John went 0-for-4 on the power play while Shawinigan went 1-for-6.
NOTES: See Sea Dogs Postscript tomorrow on SN.