Saturday, April 29, 2017

Armada advance to QMJHL final

The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada have advanced to the President Cup final.

The Armada eliminated the Charlottetown Islanders this afternoon on the Island, winning 5-2 to take the semifinal series in five games.

Armada goaltender Samuel Montembeault made 31 saves - including 28 in the first two periods - in the win. Charlottetown outshot the Armada 14-4 in the opening period but could beat Montembeault just once (and twice overall).

The Islanders were without their top player, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong, for this game due to suspension.

Charlottetown won the first game of this series but went on to lose four straight. The Isles had a difficult time keeping the puck out of their own net, allowing four or more goals in each of the final four games of the series - this after a Game 1 shutout.

This will be labelled an upset, but not a big one. The Islanders finished fourth overall in the league standings with 96 points while the Armada were right behind them with 92. The biggest surprise of this series is that it ended so abruptly, going just five games.

This series loss will no doubt sting in Charlottetown for some time. The team loaded up at the trade deadline with Sprong returning. Making it the semifinals - the first trip in franchise history - is certainly a accomplishment, but the team had to have had higher hopes following the moves they had made.

The Armada, meanwhile, have been quite a story this post-season. After sweeping Drummondville in the opening round, they fell down 3-1 in their second round series with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. But the squad rattled off three straight wins to take the series in seven. They have gone 7-1 since being down 3-1 to the Titan.

This will be the first trip to the President Cup final for the Armada/Montreal Junior/St. John's Fog Devils franchise - Saint John's expansion cousins. The team has made the playoffs every year of their existence, making it to the semifinals twice previously. It was only a matter of time before they made a final.

The Armada will play the winner of the Sea Dogs - Chicoutimi Sagueneens semifinal series. Game 6 of that series is tomorrow at 5 p.m. in Chicoutimi. The Sea Dogs lead 3-2.

Friday, April 28, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 4-0

FINAL: Chicoutimi 0, Saint John 4
Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs shook off a shaky opening 20 minutes to defeat the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-0 on Friday at Harbour Station in Game 5 of the President Cup semifinal series.

The win gives the Sea Dogs a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 on Sunday in Chicoutimi. A win by Saint John on Sunday would put them into the league final for the first time since 2012.

Picking up goals for the Sea Dogs of Friday were Jakub Zboril, Nathan Noel, Thomas Chabot and Joe Veleno. Callum Booth recorded another shutout with a 23-save performance.

The Sagueneens stayed in the game for some time thanks to the play of goaltender Julio Billio, who took a 48-save loss.

To the notes…
  • There was no scoring in a very tight checking opening period. Chances were very limited on both sides.
  • The Sea Dogs scored the game’s first goal at 13:19 of the second period when Zboril hammered a shot from the blue line by Billia to make it 1-0.
  • The Dogs didn’t waste much time adding to their lead as Noel picked up his first of the playoffs at 15:45. After a nifty passing play, Noel was left with a yawning cage, making it 2-0.
  • Chabot scored on a great individual effort at 5:46 of the third, skating through the entire Sags team and whipping a wrist shot past Billia. That made it 3-0 Sea Dogs.
  • Saint John extended their lead once again at 10:09 of the third when Veleno buried a Julien Gauthier feed past Billia. That would make it a 4-0 final.
  • Booth recorded his second shutout of the playoffs both against Chicoutimi
  • Brendan Hamelin missed Friday's game after a big hit by Zboril in Game 4. Hamelin has been released from hospital but is out with a concussion.
  • Matthew Highmore and Mathieu Joseph had their point streaks come to an end at 12 games.
  • Saint John had 52 shots in this game - 44 of which came in the final two periods.

Playoffs Game Day: Game 5 vs Sagueneens

The semifinal series between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Chicoutimi Sagueneens is now a best-of-three. Game 5 of the series goes tonight at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Rogers TV/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The best-of-seven President Cup semifinal series is tied 2-2.

Last game: The Sagueneens won Game 4 by score of 4-3 on Wednesday in Chicoutimi. Brendan Hamelin scored twice for the Sags while singles came from Mark Bzowey and Joey Ratelle. The Sea Dogs had a pair of goals from Mathieu Joseph and a solo marker from Bokondji Imama. Julio Billia made 30 saves in the win. Callum Booth made 19 saves in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs went 2-0-0-0 against the Sagueneens in the regular season while Chicoutimi went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Sagueneens: None.

Random stat: Nicolas Roy has two goals and three assists so far in this series. Mathieu Joseph, meanwhile, has a goal and five assists.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is Friday's game a must-win for Saint John?

Is Friday's Game 5 a must-win for the Saint John Sea Dogs?

Technically, it's not. A Sea Dogs loss and Saint John could still win the series in seven games. But if the Chicoutimi Sagueneens' playoff run so far is any indication, the Sea Dogs may want to treat it like a must-win game.

Chicoutimi is 10-5 so far in this year's playoffs. But when coming off a loss, the Sags are an impressive 5-0. They have yet to lose back-to-back games this post-season.

Here's how Chicoutimi has performed in games following a loss:

Round 2, Game 2: 5-2 win at Rouyn-Noranda
Round 2, Game 4: 6-1 win vs Rouyn-Noranda
Round 2, Game 7: 4-3 OT win at Rouyn-Noranda
Round 3, Game 2: 3-2 2OT win at Saint John
Round 3, Game 4: 4-3 win vs Saint John

In short, if the Sags win Friday's Game 5, defeating them twice in a row to win the series could be a problem for Saint John.

Friday's game takes place at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station. Game 6 is in Chicoutimi (which sold out in just 23 minutes) on Sunday at 5 p.m. while a Game 7 would be Tuesday night back in Saint John.

The Sags have been very good in this series, but the Dogs could be up 3-1 in this series or even advanced. That's no disrespect to Chicoutimi, they've played well enough to be in this position. But one of their wins came in overtime while the other came via a goal in the final seconds of regulation, games that could have just as easily gone in Saint John's favour. But that's hockey - and now we're treated to longer, entertaining series.

RECAP: Sea Dogs lose 4-3

FINAL: Saint John 3, Chicoutimi 4
CHICOUTIMI, Que. - That was a heartbreaker.

With 13.9 seconds left in regulation time, Joey Ratelle broke a 3-3 tie, giving the Chicoutimi Sagueneens a 4-3 victory over the Saint John Sea Dogs in Game 4 of the President Cup semifinal series on Wednesday. The Sags' win ties the series at 2-2.

Brendan Hamelin, who ended up leaving the game on a stretcher, scored two goals while Mark Bzowey added a solo marker. Julio Billia was terrific in net for Chicoutimi, making 30 stops.

Mathieu Joseph scored twice for Saint John while Bokondji Imama added a solo marker. Callum Booth made 19 stops in the loss.

This game could have gone either way. The Sea Dogs never led - despite outshooting the Sags 33-23 - but battled back several times, including tying the game with a shorthanded goal midway through the third.

While the series is tied 2-2, it's hard to argue that the Dogs haven't had an edge in play. One of Chicoutimi's wins was in overtime while the other was essentially in overtime. Those games could have gone either way. The Sags are a good team and giving the Dogs a good run, but it's not time to panic just yet.

To the notes...
  • Saint John got an early power play in this game but could not get a whole lot going.
  • Chicoutimi opened the scoring at 13:17 when Bzowey scored, beating Booth on a nice deke after the Sea Dogs goaltender came out to challenge the play.
  • Joseph tied the game with a power play goal at 4:04 of the second period.
  • After failing to score on a power play of their own, Hamelin scored at 11:06 to put Chicoutimi back in front, 2-1. A point shot bounced to Hamelin in front who spun around at the top of the crease and potted the puck past Booth.
  • Saint John - particularly Nathan Noel - had a few great shorthanded chances in the period, none better than a two-on-none that was stopped by Billia late in the frame.
  • After Saint John couldn't connect on a power play, Hamelin scored at 2:38 of the third to put Chicoutimi up 3-1. The puck came loose after a scramble and Hamelin put it through Joe Veleno and a diving Booth.
  • Just 37 seconds later, Imama scored to cut Chicoutimi's lead to 3-2.
  • After a bizarre interference call on Thomas Chabot, the Sags headed to the power play at 9:45. But at 10:34, and after some fine penalty killing by the Dogs, Joseph scored to even things up at 3-3.
  • There was a big scramble in the Saint John crease in the final minute. The play would be reviewed upstairs but called no goal.
  • Ratelle scored with 13.9 seconds left in the third, giving the Sags the win.
  • Dmitry Zhukenov was down for a while in the second period after taking a hit from Imama. He left the game but did return.
  • Hamelin took a hit from Jakub Zboril in the third period and was in a lot of discomfort. He was able to stand up with some help but was carted off on a stretcher anyways. 
  • Joseph and Matthew Highmore extended their point streaks to 12 games.
  • This was Saint John's first road loss of the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Playoffs Game Day: Game 4 at Chicoutimi

The Saint John Sea Dogs can take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a victory tonight in Chicoutimi. Puck drop time for Game 4 is 8:30 p.m. at Centre Georges-Vezina.

TV/Radio/Webcast: None/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven President Cup semifinal series 2-1.

Last game: Saint John took Game 3 by score of 5-0 last night in Chicoutimi. Bokondji Imama scored a pair of goals while singles came from Joe Veleno, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Mathieu Joseph. Callum Booth was excellent in net, making 25 saves in the shutout. Julio Billia made 24 stops in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs went 2-0-0-0 against the Sagueneens in the regular season while Chicoutimi went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Sagueneens: None.

Random stat: The Sea Dogs have now outscored opponents 21-2 in third periods this post-season, meaning 21 of their 53 goals have been scored in the final 20 minutes of regulation time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 5-0

FINAL: Saint John 5, Chicoutimi 0
CHICOUTIMI, Que. - What looked like a barn burner ended up being anything but.

The Saint John Sea Dogs scored three goals in a 49-second span - including two in six seconds - early in the third period on Tuesday, propelling the team to a 5-0 victory over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in Game 3 of the QMJHL semifinals. The victory gives the Dogs a 2-1 series lead.

The first 40 minutes of the game were quite close and saw the Sea Dogs cling to a 1-0 lead. Callum Booth was sensational, especially during a penalty kill late in the second period.

Saint John exploded while Chicoutimi imploded in the third period. Bing, bang, boom and it was 4-0 Sea Dogs and eventually 5-0.

Bokondji Imama scored two goals for the Sea Dogs while singles came from Joe Veleno, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Mathieu Joseph. Booth made 25 saves in the shutout win.

Julio Billia made 24 saves in the loss.

To the notes...
  • Imama gave the Sea Dogs a 1-0 lead just 3:30 into the first period, ripping a wrist shot over the shoulder of Billia. 
  • The Sags were awarded a couple power plays in the first but the Sea Dogs did a fairly good job at killing them off.
  • 18 seconds into the second period, the unthinkable happened and the Sea Dogs were awarded a power play. With that out of the way, we were reminded that Saint John's power play has had its struggles this post-season. Matthew Highmore had a good chance, but that was about it.
  • The Sags and their fans were all wound up about a potential goal late in the second period. It was quickly reviewed and ruled no goal.
  • Booth made a huge save off Joey Ratelle late in the second while the Sags were on a power play. Chicoutimi hit a couple posts as well.
  • Imama gave the Sea Dogs a 2-0 lead at 7:25 of the third when he ripped a wrist shot from the slot past Billia.
  • Then, after Julien Gauthier nearly deked out Billia, the puck made its way to the corner. Spencer Smallman then centred the puck to Veleno in front who scored, making it 3-0 at 8:08.
  • Just six seconds later, Dove-McFalls carried the puck into the zone and fired an innocent looking shot on Billia that went in, making it 4-0.
  • Joseph rounded out the scoring with a goal at 16:28.
  • Before Olivier Galipeau's second period penalty, the Sea Dogs' last power play came in the opening minutes of Game 1's third period. Crazy.
  • Both coaches used their time outs in the second period. That may have played a role in Chicoutimi's third period struggles, with the team unable to take a break during Saint John's rapid fire.
  • Shortly after Imama's second goal, linesman Nicolas Piche took a puck off the leg and was in a lot of pain. He would stay in the game, though.
  • Two goals six-seconds apart is a new Sea Dogs playoff record, according to Tim Roszell. Three goals in 49 seconds is also a record.
  • Highmore and Joseph extended their point streaks to 11 games. 
  • Gauthier's five-game goal streak came to an end.
  • Saint John was awarded just one power play in this game. Chicoutimi had four.

Playoffs Game Day: Game 3 at Chicoutimi

The Saint John Sea Dogs look to retake the lead in their semifinal series with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens tonight. Game time is 8:30 p.m. at Centre Georges-Vezina.

TV/Radio/Webcast: None/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs and Sagueneens are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven President Cup semifinal series.

Last game: Chicoutimi won Game 2 of the series by score of 3-2 in double overtime on Saturday at Harbour Station. Joey Ratelle scored twice while Nicolas Roy added a solo marker. Julien Gauthier and Matthew Highmore had Saint John goals. Julio Billia made 52 saves in the win. Callum Booth made 51 stops in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs went 2-0-0-0 against the Sagueneens in the regular season while Chicoutimi went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Sagueneens: None.

Random stat: Chicoutimi is 4-1 at home this post-season and went an impressive 24-9-0-1 at home during the regular season.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Game 3 goes Tuesday night

The Saint John Sea Dogs will face a few new challenges in Game 3 of the 2017 President Cup semifinal series on Tuesday night.

The Chicoutimi Sagueneens will be carrying some momentum following Saturday's 3-2 double overtime win at Harbour Station, which tied the series at 1-1. The Sags' big name players, Nicolas Roy, Frederic Allard, Joey Ratelle and Julia Billia have all been very good so far in this series, especially in Game 2.

The Sags will have their home crowd behind them with both Games 3 and 4 already sold out. The team has even planned a viewing party for Game 5. They're hyped.
Because this is a baseball league or something, Chicoutimi's arena is bigger than the standard NHL surface, featuring the Olympic sized dimensions of 200' x 100'. While the Sea Dogs may not be used to that size, it could play in their favour since the team has so many skilled players.

Saint John won 4-2 the last time they played in this arena, which was in February. Shots in that game were only 20-19 in favour of the Dogs, with shots just 6-1 Saint John in the opening period.

Game 4 of the series will be held on Wednesday in Chicoutimi. Both games start at 8:30 p.m.

Some other notes...
  • The Sagueneens requested a revision of a Mathieu Joseph play during Saturday's Game 2. The league has not suspended Joseph, meaning Chicoutimi has been fined $250 for the request.
  • Will Saint John get a power play in Game 3? The chances are, as with every game, very likely. But we'll see. The Dogs went for 0/3 in Game 1.
  • Both Matthew Highmore and Mathieu Joseph carry 10-game point streaks into Tuesday's game. Julien Gauthier, meanwhile, has goals in five straight games.
  • Chicoutimi is 4-1 at home this post-season and went an impressive 24-9-0-1 during the the regular season. They finished below .500 (.471) on the road during the regular season.
  • The Islanders/Armada also play Game 3 of their series on Tuesday - at the exact time. Annoying. That series is also tied 1-1.
  • Nice story on Gerard Gallant here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Playoff feel finally arrives at Harbour Station

First of all, what a game last night.

The Saint John Sea Dogs' playoff run has no doubt lacked some drama and excitement. But last night's match, which saw the Sea Dogs' two-goal lead erased and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens eventually win in double overtime, certainly makes up for a lot of the blowouts the earlier rounds featured.

The Sagueneens looked like the team that upset the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the second round last night. This series could get even more interesting as it shifts to the big Chicoutimi ice this week.

Saint John got off to a solid start in Game 2. Even though shots were just 10-9 in favour of the Sea Dogs in the first period, Saint John was definitely the better team and looked like they might cruise to another win.

But then the second period started.

Chicoutimi came out flying in the second. Saint John didn't record a shot on goal until the midway point of the period, and it was the first time this post-season the Sea Dogs have really been pushed by the opposition for any significant amount of time. It's probably been overstated by now, but this is probably a good thing overall. If Saint John is going to win the league, they'll be pushed at some point. They might as well figure out how to deal with it now.

The Sea Dogs rebounded in the second half of the middle stanza, and the rest of the game was back-and-forth. It was fantastic. Both goaltenders, Julia Billia and Callum Booth, were phenomenal, each facing over 50 shots.

RECAP: Sea Dogs lose 3-2 (2OT)

FINAL: Chicoutimi 3, Saint John 2 (2OT)
Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – Nicolas Roy scored on a power play at 5:12 of double overtime to give the Chicoutimi Sagueneens a 3-2 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs on Saturday night at Harbour Station.

Chicoutimi scored three unanswered goals - the other two by the non-suspended Joey Ratelle - en route to handing the Sea Dogs their first loss of the 2017 playoffs. The win evens the semifinal series at 1-1.

Julia Billia had a strong night in the Chicoutimi net, making 52 saves.

Goal scorers for the Sea Dogs were Julien Gauthier and Matthew Highmore. Callum Booth was outstanding, stopping 51 of the 54 shots sent his way.

To the notes…

  • The Sea Dogs got on the board first at 12:43 of the first period when Gauthier finished off a pretty two-on-one play with Spencer Smallman.
  • Sea Dogs fans didn’t have to wait long for the next goal as Highmore buried a rebound past Billia just 33 seconds later to make it 2-0.
  • The Sags came out hard to start the second period and scored a power play marker at 13:32 when Ratelle tapped home a loose puck
  • Ratelle would even things at 2-2 with another power play marker. The puck went off the skate of Ratelle and by Booth at 15:39 of the third.
  • The game would go all the way to double overtime. A penalty to Simon Bourque at 3:13 for delay of game led to another Chicoutimi power play goal, this time off the stick of Roy. The goal came with just one second remaining in the Bourque penalty.
  • Prior to the game, it was announced by the league that Vincent Tremblay-Lapalme had been suspended one game for his hit on Simon Bourque. In a bit of a surprise, the league did not suspend Ratelle for his hit to the head of Mathieu Joseph.
  • Chicoutimi ended the game 3/5 on the power play. Saint John was not given a single man advantage in 85:12 of game time.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Playoffs Game Day: Game 2 vs Sagueneens

The Saint John Sea Dogs will look to take a 2-0 series lead in their QMJHL semifinal against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens tonight. Game time is 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Rogers TV/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven President Cup semifinal series 1-0.

Last game: Saint John won Game 1 by a score of 4-1 last night. Simon Bourque, Cole Reginato, Mathieu Joseph and Julien Gauthier all scored for Saint John. Nicolas Roy scored for Chicoutimi. Callum Booth made 21 saves in the win. Julio Billia made 35 stops in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs went 2-0-0-0 against the Sagueneens in the regular season while Chicoutimi went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Sagueneens: None.

Random stat: After going goalless in four straight games, Julien Gauthier now has goals in each of his past four contests.

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 4-1

FINAL: Chicoutimi 1, Saint John 4
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs kicked off the QMJHL semifinals with a convincing 4-1 victory over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens Friday evening at Harbour Station.

After blowing off a bit of rust in a scoreless first period, the Sea Dogs broke the game open with a balanced, somewhat dominant, attack in the second period on their way claiming a 1-0 series lead.

Simon Bourque, Cole Reginato, Mathieu Joseph and Julien Gauthier all scored for Saint John. Callum Booth recorded 21 saves for the Sea Dogs.

Nicolas Roy replied for Chicoutimi, while Julio Billia was called upon to stop 35 of 39 shots sent his way.

NOTES
  • The Sea Dogs penalty kill was outstanding in the first period as they only allowed one shot on goal during three Chicoutimi extra man opportunities.
  • Sea Dogs players and fans collectively held their breath late in the first period after Roy caught Thomas Chabot with a high hit - which the officials felt didn't warrant a penalty.
  • Saint John nearly scored in the final seconds of the opening frame but the buzzer clearly sounded - and the green light was lit - before Chabot put the puck past Billia.
  • Saint John would open the scoring at 3:44 of the second, when Bailey Webster's "Hail Mary pass" from behind his own goal line was caught by Bourque - just a couple seconds after he left the penalty box - and the Sea Dogs defenceman broke in all alone and snapped a shot over Billia's glove.
  • At 6:37 of the second, Nathan Noel carried the puck through the high slot and the rebound of his heavy wrist shot was banged in by Reginato. The goal was initially waved off for apparent goaltender interference. However, upon review, it was determined that it was Kelly Klima - who missed a check on Reginato - who bumped into Billia.
  • Less than two minutes after Reginato's goal, Joseph walked the line, completed a nice give-and-go with Matthew Highmore and sent a laser over Billia's blocker into the top mesh to stake the hosts to a 3-0 lead.
  • Just past the halfway point of the middle frame, Joey Ratelle attempted to decapitate Joseph with a wicked blindside head shot. Ratelle was given a major and game misconduct for his actions. A stiff suspension should be in order as well.
  • Roy gave the Sagueneens a lift at 16:46 when his nifty backhand from the face-off circle beat Booth.
  • Chicoutimi pushed hard after Roy's goal. But with 16.7 seconds left in the second period, Gauthier - Roy's Team Canada teammate - unleashed a seeing eye wrist shot from near the blue line which beat a surprised Billia to make the score 4-1.
  • Besides another major and game misconduct to Chicoutimi - namely a vicious hit from behind by Vincent Tremblay-Lapalme against Bourque early in the period - and a clear TKO by Noel over Kelly Klima, cooler heads pretty much prevailed in a chippy, scoreless third period. (Ed. Note: Kyle Ward also delivered what seemed to be a pretty bad hit from behind in the period.)
  • Chicoutimi coach Yanick Jean likely deserves some credit for constantly berating the officials into seemingly getting some calls in his favour. 
  • The Sagueneens sported an old school bleached playoff hair look - reminiscent of the 2012 Saint John - Chicoutimi semifinal series.
  • Elsewhere in the QMJHL - the Charlottetown Islanders earned a 3-0 win over Blainville-Boisbriand to jump into an early lead in the other semifinal.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Playoffs Game Day: Game 1 vs Sagueneens

The Saint John Sea Dogs begin semifinal play tonight at Harbour Station. Game time for Game 1 against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens is 7 p.m.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Rogers TV/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: This is the first game of the best-of-seven President Cup semifinal series.

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 7-1 win in Val-d'Or on Wednesday, April 12. Spencer Smallman had a hat trick for Saint John, Joe Veleno had two goals and singles came from Simon Bourque and Julien Gauthier. Callum Booth made 18 saves in the win. The Sagueneens are coming off a 4-3 overtime win in Rouyn-Noranda on Tuesday. Kelly Klima and Olivier Galipeau each scored twice in that game. Julio Billia made 29 saves in the win.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs went 2-0-0-0 against the Sagueneens in the regular season while Chicoutimi went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Sagueneens: None.

Random stat: The Sea Dogs went 10-0 in the 2012 playoffs before losing their first match - which was Game 3 of the semifinals against none other than Chicoutimi. Saint John has cruised through the first two rounds this year and is currently 8-0.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Five things to watch for in the semis

The semifinals are upon us.

Just like in 2012, the 8-0, top-seeded Saint John Sea Dogs will take on the battled-tested underdog Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the President Cup semifinals. The series begins Friday night at Harbour Station.

Here are five things to watch for in the series.

Rested vs tested
A classic playoff scenario is lined up for this series: the Sea Dogs, coming off a sweep of the Val-d'Or Foreurs and who have had over a week off, will face the Sagueneens, who are coming off a seven-game series upset over Rouyn-Noranda that just ended on Tuesday night. No doubt Chicoutimi will be ready for the top-seeded Dogs, but endurance will be key for them, especially in these first two games.

Boost from the backend
If there ends up being plenty of scoring from the backend in this series, it should come as no surprise. These two teams feature four of the post-season's top six scoring defencemen: Thomas Chabot (three goals and 10 assists), Olivier Galipeau (four goals and seven assists), Simon Bourque (two goals and seven assists) and Frederic Allard (two goals and seven assists). Galipeau scored the game-tying and game-winning goals on Tuesday in Rouyn-Noranda.

Third period fun
You should never leave games early, but you certainly shouldn't do so in this series. Saint John has scored 17 of their 42 goals in these playoffs in third periods. Chicoutimi, meanwhile, has scored 15 of their 38 in thirds.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Notes: Del Paggio joining Thunderwolves

Daniel Del Paggio is headed home.

The Thunder Bay native has committed to Lakehead University for the 2017-18 U Sports season. He's the school's first recruit of the new year.

“I’m a hometown boy and friends and family are important to me," said Del Paggio in a news release. "I grew up watching the Thunderwolves and I’m excited to have the opportunity to become one myself. I also chose Lakehead because the team is up and coming, and I want to contribute right off the bat and be an all-around solid player, work hard and provide some leadership."
Del Paggio is coming off an overage season where he registered 15 goals and 36 assists in 66 QMJHL games. 64 of those games were with the Gatineau Olympiques while the two others were with the Sea Dogs. He also had a goal and four assists in seven playoff games with Gatineau this year.

Del Paggio was signed by the Sea Dogs as a free agent prior to the 2014-15 season and went on to spend two seasons with the club. He was traded to Gatineau in October in exchange for a couple draft picks.

The forward ends his QMJHL career with 45 goals and 128 points in 193 regular season games. He also had six goals and 20 points in 29 playoff games.

Here are a few other notes...
  • Meanwhile, former Sea Dogs/Olympiques/Wildcats forward Joey Richard has committed to UdeM for next season.
  • Mathieu Joseph is featured in The Hockey News' latest prospect roundup.
  • The Manitoba Moose were pretty awful in the AHL this season. But, Luke Green did get into a few games after joining the club following the completion of the Sherbrooke Phoenix's regular season. Green recorded one assist in four games with the Moose.
  • If you haven't been following the USHL playoffs, Shane Bowers and the Waterloo Black Hawks are off to the Western Conference final. Bowers has two goals and an assist in three playoff games.

Sea Dogs to play Sagueneens in semis

The Saint John Sea Dogs and Chicoutimi Sagueneens are set for another third round battle in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Sagueneens confirmed their spot in the league's final four with a 4-3 overtime Game 7 victory in Rouyn-Noranda on Tuesday. The Sags' Olivier Galipeau tied the game while shorthanded and with their goaltender pulled with 1:11 remaining in regulation time. Galipeau then scored at 4:22 of overtime to eliminate the QMJHL's No. 2 seed and defending champions.

Chicoutimi, seeded eighth, will now face the top seeded Sea Dogs in round three. They won't have much time to rest with Game 1 set for this Friday at Harbour Station.
The Sags and Sea Dogs met in the 2012 semifinals as well, where Saint John won a memorable series in five games. The Sea Dogs lost Game 3 of that 2012 series, which ended up being their only loss en route to the President Cup. Games 3, 4 and 5 all went to overtime.

The two teams meet under similar circumstances this year. Saint John is the top seed, the favourite and have cruised through the playoffs so far. Chicoutimi is the underdog, perhaps better than their record shows and are coming off a second-round upset that went the distance.

Saint John won both regular season meetings against Chicoutimi this year, defeating the Sags 1-0 on Jan. 20 at Harbour Station and 4-2 on Feb. 18 at the Georges-Vezina Centre.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Alumdate: things are going well and terrible for Sea Dogs alumni in NHL playoffs

Things could certainly be going better for Charlie Coyle and the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild were one of the NHL's best teams for much of the regular season but now find themselves down 3-0 in their first round playoff series against Jake Allen and the St. Louis Blues. Game 4 is on Wednesday in St. Louis.

Allen has been one of the big stories of the series so far, keeping the Wild to just one goal in each of the first three games. Coyle, who had 18 goals and 56 points in 82 regular season games with Minnesota, has been held to just one point (a goal in Game 3) in the series.

Tomas Jurco has not played in this year's playoffs, but things are looking grim for his Chicago Blackhawks as well, who are currently trailing the Nashville Predators 3-0.

Things are going better for Saint John Sea Dogs alumni in the Eastern Conference. Mike Hoffman scored a beautiful goal last night, helping the Ottawa Senators defeat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime.



Hoffman now has two goals in three games for the Sens, who lead the Bruins 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Two Game 7s coming up in QMJHL

The Saint John Sea Dogs will have to wait another night to see who their third round opponent is.

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies sent a message on Monday, defeating the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 9-2 in Game 6. The Huskies victory tied the series at 3-3 and sets up a Game 7 on Tuesday at Iamgold Arena.

The Huskies-Sagueneens series has had plenty of goals. Four of the six games have seen one team score five or more times.

The Sagueneens are the lowest seeded team that remains in the QMJHL's playoff race. Saint John, the top seed, will face the lowest seed that advances to the third round. To put it simply: if Chicoutimi advances, the Sea Dogs will play Chicoutimi. If Rouyn-Noranda advances, the Sea Dogs will play the winner of the Titan-Armada series.

The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada also forced a Game 7 on Monday, staving off elimination with a 4-1 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. That Game 7 will take place on Tuesday in the Armada's rink.

The Charlottetown Islanders, along with the Sea Dogs, have already advanced to the league's final four.

There will be four Game 7s across the CHL Tuesday night with Lethbridge and Medicine Hat squaring off in the WHL and London and Erie facing each other in the OHL.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sea Dogs' semifinal opponent could be determined Monday night

The Saint John Sea Dogs could find out who their third round playoff opponent is on Monday night.

The Sea Dogs (seeded 1st) and Charlottetown Islanders (4th) have already advanced to the QMJHL's semifinals. In the two remaining series, the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (8th) lead the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2nd) while the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (6th) are up 3-2 on the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (5th). Both series play Game 6s tomorrow.

If a Game 7 is required for either series, it would be played on Tuesday night.

Here are the possible scenarios for Saint John:

  • If Chicoutimi and Bathurst advance: the Sea Dogs would play Chicoutimi.
  • If Chicoutimi and Blainville-Boisbriand advance: the Sea Dogs would play Chicoutimi.
  • If Rouyn-Noranda and Bathurst advance: the Sea Dogs would play Bathurst.
  • If Rouyn-Noranda and Blainville-Boisbriand advance: the Sea Dogs would play Blainville-Boisbriand.

To put it simply, if Chicoutimi advances, the Sea Dogs will play the Sagueneens. If Rouyn-Noranda advances, the Sea Dogs will play the winner of the Bathurst-Blainville series.

The Sea Dogs have not announced any details regarding their third round schedule. They will have home ice once again, though. Looking at the Harbour Station calendar, Games 1 and 2 will presumably be played on Friday/Saturday/Sunday (it's usually Friday and Saturday).

The OHL's final four is almost set as well. The Eastern Conference final will feature the Mississauga Steelheads taking on the Peterborough Petes. In the Western Conference, the Owen Sound Attack will face either the London Knights or Erie Otters. Game 7 of the London/Erie series takes place Tuesday in Erie.

In the WHL, the Seattle Thunderbirds will face the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Conference final. In the Eastern Conference, Lethbridge leads Medicine Hat 3-2 in their second round series while Regina and Swift Current are tied 3-3.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Saint John sweeps: how good was the Dogs' second round?


It's hard to forget Saint John's first round series in both the 2011 and 2012 playoffs.

The dominant first-place Sea Dogs had no trouble at all with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in either of those years. They even started then backup goaltender Mathieu Corbeil for a game in 2011, who posted a 15-save shutout.

The Sea Dogs scored 26 and 34 goals, respectively, in those series. If not for the incredible play of Etienne Montpetit in this year's second round matchup between Saint John and the Val-d'Or Foreurs, it certainly could have gotten as ugly as those Eagles years.

Saint John peppered Montpetit with shots, firing 224 on the goaltender in the four-game series - for an average of 56 per game. The Sea Dogs were kept to just 20 goals in the series, thanks in most part to the play of Montpetit (who allowed 18 of those 20 goals).

At the other end, Callum Booth faced under 20 shots in every game of the series, allowing six goals on 70 shots.

So how does this Sea Dogs series sweep compare to others in the past? Here's a look (ordered by date):

Series sweeps in Sea Dogs history
YearSeriesGoals ForGoals AgainstGoal Diff.
20081st round vs PEI291415
20102nd round vs GAT24816
20111st round vs CAP26224
20113rd round vs LEW20128
20121st round vs CAP34826
20122nd round vs BAC291019
20124th round vs RIM20812
20171st round vs RIM22814
20172nd round vs VAL20614

So, the 20 goals ties for the fewest the Sea Dogs have scored in a playoff series sweep. That's pretty impressive given how many shots Saint John had in each game. Montpetit is a very good goaltender.

(Also, RIP Lewiston Maineiacs).

Interestingly, this is just the second time the Sea Dogs have swept back-to-back playoff series. In 2012, their only loss of the post-season came in the third round against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens -who the Dogs could be facing again this year.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Islanders advance to QMJHL semifinals

The Charlottetown Islanders have advanced to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinals for the first time in franchise history.

The Islanders defeated the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5-2 on Thursday at Centre 200, completing a sweep. The Isles likely would have advanced to the third round last night, but the series was pushed back a day after Game 3 was postponed due to a broken pipe under the Centre 200 ice.

The Islanders/PEI Rocket/Montreal Rocket franchise has been in operation since 1999 and has been underwhelming almost every season, to say the least. Montreal never made it past the first round; PEI made it to the second round once (2003-04); and Charlottetown has made to the quarterfinals three times (2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17).

The franchise had its best ever regular season this year, posting a record of 46-18-4. Only the top-seeded Saint John Sea Dogs had a better record.

The Islanders are the second team to advance to the QMJHL's semifinals, joining Saint John. Both teams are 8-0 this post-season.

There's a very real chance the final four could feature three Maritimes Division teams. In the other series, Bathurst (6th seed) leads Blainville-Boisbriand (5th) 3-1 while the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2nd) and Chicoutimi Sagueneens (8th) are tied 2-2. Both series will hold Game 5s on Friday night.

The Sea Dogs (1st) will face the lowest seeded team that advances.

Just another season for the Sea Dogs

We all know that the Saint John Sea Dogs have been one of the CHL's best clubs over the past decade. But I'm not sure we all appreciate just how good this team has been.

I apologize if this sounds like a lovely-feel-good-oh-yeah-the-Sea-Dogs-are-great-piece, but man, this stuff needs to be pointed out.

The Sea Dogs booked their ticket - again - to the QMJHL semifinals on Wednesday, easily sweeping away the Val-d'Or Foreurs. It's the second straight year Saint John will be appearing in the semis - an impressive accomplishment for any franchise.

The thing is, Saint John making it to the semifinals doesn't even feel like a big deal anymore. Since 2008, the Dogs have made the semis six times. That's six times in the past 10 seasons. That, in junior hockey, is crazy.

While it can be difficult to compare the OHL and WHL playoffs to the QMJHL's because of the setup, we'll do it anyways. Here's a few things to consider:

  • The premier junior hockey franchise in this country, the London Knights, have made it to the OHL final four just four times during that same 10-season span (they could make it five this year, but they have their hands full with Erie).
  • The Edmonton Oil Kings, who like the Sea Dogs appeared in three straight league finals, have appeared in the WHL final four just three times since the 2008 playoffs.
  • The OHL's Erie Otters, who have had four straight 50-win seasons, are looking for their fourth league semifinal appearance since 2008.
  • The powerhouse Portland Winterhawks have been on a similar trajectory as the Sea Dogs. They could be appearing in their sixth league semifinal series since 2011 if they win their second round series.
  • Closer to home, the Moncton Wildcats have been in the semifinals six times in their history (since 1996-97). The Halifax Mooseheads seven times since 1994-95. The PEI Rocket/Charlottetown Islanders, who have been around since 2003-04, have never made it past the second round (that could be changing soon). The Sea Dogs have only been in the league since 2005-06.

This is the long way of saying teams like the Sea Dogs and Winterhawks are anomalies in the cyclical world of junior hockey. To come this close to a championship so many times so often... it's remarkable.

Appreciate what you have witnessed over this past decade, Saint John. Very few other cities have seen a franchise perform like this. And, while Dogs fans may not like to think about it, there's a good chance we'll never have a decade like this again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 7-1

FINAL: Saint John 7, Val-d'Or 1
Lorne Webster | SN Staff 

VAL-D'OR, Que. – A six-goal performance by the line of Spencer Smallman (three goals), Joe Veleno (two), and Julien Gauthier (one) led the Saint John Sea Dogs to a dominant 7-1 win over the Val-d'Or Foreurs at Centre Air Creebec Wednesday evening.

With the victory, Saint John completed the sweep of their quarterfinal series and earned the themselves a few extra days of rest as they wait for the semifinals to begin. The Sea Dogs will be scoreboard watching as they wait for their next opponent.

Simon Bourque had a goal and three assists for the Sea Dogs while Gauthier, Thomas Chabot and Matthew Highmore all chipped in two assists. Callum Booth stopped 18 shots in the win.

Charley Graaskamp replied for Val-d'Or. Etienne Montpetit certainly was a major story in this series with another 38 saves in the final game of the series.

NOTES
  • Veleno opened the scoring just 1:45 into the contest when the phenom banged the rebound of a Bourque blast from the point past Montpetit.
  • A little over a minute later, at 2:52, Bourque pinched in from the point and unloaded a booming slap shot from the top of the left face-off circle which caught the top corner over Montpetit's glove.
  • A few minutes after Bourque's goal, Chabot's heavy snap shot from the slot ricocheted off the cross bar but stayed out.
  • Smallman would stake the visitors to a 3-0 lead, on a power play at 12:40, when the Sea Dogs' captain pinched in from the left point and one-timed a cross-ice pass from Highmore past Montpetit.
  • Moments after being absolutely robbed by Booth, Graaskamp stole the puck in the slot and sent a laser over the Sea Dogs goalie's glove to get the Foreurs on the board at 19:12 of the first. Booth was not happy that Graaskamp had not been penalized for bowling him over seconds prior to that goal.
  • Gauthier restored the Sea Dogs' three-goal lead at 1:29 of the second, when he deposited the rebound of another Bourque point shot. That goal was Gauthier's third consecutive game with a goal against his former club.
  • At 13:02 of the second, Gauthier's wrist shot from the left point was deflected by Smallman over Montpetit's glove to make it 5-1 for Saint John - and seemingly silenced the horns within Centre Air Creebec.
  • While shorthanded at 17:41, Veleno won an offensive zone face-off to himself, jumped around his man and snapped the puck past a somewhat startled Montpetit to extend the Sea Dogs lead to 6-1 after two periods.
  • Smallman got his hat trick goal just 1:15 into the third, when he received a pass in tight and backhanded the puck over Montpetit's pad just inside the left post.
  • Gauthier took a moment to raise his stick and acknowledge the Foreurs fans - who had supported him throughout his time in Val-d'Or - as he left the ice in what is expected to be his last game as a junior at Centre Air Creebec.
  • Gauthier, Jason Bell and Alex Bishop all received hugs and best wishes from their former teammates during the ceremonial handshake line at the end of the game.
  • As a result of the loss, Foreurs overagers Alexis Pepin - the second overall selection in 2012 by the PEI Rocket - and Charley Graaskamp played the final game of their major junior hockey careers.
  • Various reports from around the NHL on Wednesday indicated that the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are set to announce that Gerard Gallant (former Sea Dogs head coach - and two time CHL coach of the year winner) will be their inaugural head coach. Congrats to "Turk."
  • Elsewhere in the QMJHL, Kameron Kielly scored at 4:11 of overtime to lead the Charlottetown Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, which extended the Islanders' series lead to 3-0. In Bathurst, the Titan clobbered the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 7-2 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their quarterfinal. And in Chicoutimi, the Sagueneens evened their series at 2-2 with Rouyn-Noranda by beating the second ranked Huskies 6-1.

Playoff Game Day: Game 4 at Val-d'Or

The Saint John Sea Dogs look to complete a sweep of their second round series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs tonight. Game 4 takes place this evening at 8:30 p.m. at Centre Air Creebec.

TV/Radio/Webcast: None/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven President Cup quarterfinal playoff series 3-0.

Last game: The Sea Dogs defeated the Foreurs 7-3 in Game 3 last night in Val-d'Or. Mathieu Joseph had a hat trick for Saint John while singles came from Cole Reginato, Joe Veleno, Julien Gauthier and Kyle Ward. David Henley, Ivan Kozlov and David Noel scored for Val-d'Or. Callum Booth made 16 saves in the win. Etienne Montpetit made 52 stops in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs were 2-0-0-0 against the Foreurs during the regular season while Val-d'Or went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Foreurs: Defenceman Jason Bell and goaltender Alex Bishop.

Random stat: Saint John is now averaging a league high 4.88 goals per game and 47.59 shots per game through seven playoff games.

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 7-3

FINAL: Saint John 7, Val-d'Or 3
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

VAL-D'OR, Que. – A three-goal performance by Mathieu Joseph led the Saint John Sea Dogs to a 7-3 win over the Val-d'Or Foreurs at Centre Air Creebec Tuesday evening.

With the victory, Saint John secured a 3-0 stranglehold in their quarter-final match-up and can move into the semi-finals with one more victory over the Foreurs.

Cole Reginato, Joe Veleno, Julien Gauthier and Kyle Ward added single goals for Saint John. Callum Booth recorded 16 saves in the win.

David Henley, Ivan Kozlov and David Noel replied for Val-d'Or. Etienne Montpetit had another impressive 52 save performance for the Foreurs.

NOTES
  • Henley opened the scoring on a power play at 3:16 of the first period when his seemingly innocent point shot deflected off a Sea Dogs defender and past a screened Booth. Former Sea Dog Jason Bell earned an assist on the goal.
  • Kozlov sent the home team supporters into a frenzy of horn blowing at 5:47 when he corralled a rebound in the slot and snapped the puck between Booth's toe and the post to put the Foreurs up two goals for the first time this series.
  • Sea Dogs head coach Danny Flynn used his time out immediately after Kozlov's goal to settle his troops and it worked perfectly. Just 30 seconds later, Samuel Dove-McFalls' drop pass from behind the Foreurs' goal went to Reginato in the slot and the Sea Dogs winger snapped a one-timer past Montpetit to make the score 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
  • Veleno evened the score while on a power play at 19:10 of the first, as he deftly tipped a cross crease pass from Simon Bourque past Montpetit.
  • Joseph gave Saint John their first lead of the night at 7:08 of the second - after Bokondji Imama intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and sent a long lead pass to his linemate - on a breakaway and beat Montpetit with a slick deke to his backhand. In games one and two of this series, the Sea Dogs had been stoned by Montpetit on shots during about seven or eight breakaway opportunities.
  • Val-d'Or's Noel tied the score at 9:28 when his point shot appeared to glance off another Sea Dogs defender in front of Booth.
  • Despite being outshot 37-11 after two periods, the hosts had managed to find a way to go to the dressing room even at 3-3 on the scoreboard.
  • The Sea Dogs moved back in front at 4:18 of the third when the rebound of a Bailey Webster point shot went to Gauthier in the slot and the former Foreurs sniper unloaded a quick snap shot past Montpetit.
  • Joseph put the Sea Dogs up by two at 8:26 when he cut through the slot, faked (or fanned on) his initial attempt to freeze Montpetit and then snapped the disc past the Foreurs' 'keeper's blocker.
  • Joseph completed his hat trick with an empty net goal at 18:45.
  • Ward put a cherry on top with a one-timer from the slot after a nice drop pass from behind the goal line by Cedric Pare to make the final score 7-3 for the visitors.
  • Gauthier established a Sea Dogs record for most shots on goal in regulation time of a playoff game on Saturday as he unleashed 13 shots against his former team in the game two victory.
  • Henley's first period power play goal was the first man advantage goal against the Sea Dogs in this year's playoffs. Saint John also had scored three shorthanded goals in the team's first six playoff games.
  • Kozlov, one of the Foreurs' two import players, returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday's game.
  • Elsewhere in the QMJHL - a broken refrigeration line in Sydney, NS caused Game 3 of the Screaming Eagles - Charlottetown Islanders series to be postponed. In Bathurst, the Titan earned a 4-1 victory over Blainville-Boisbriand to jump into a 2-1 series lead. And in Chicoutimi, the second ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies came away with a 3-1 win over the Sagueneens - to take a 2-1 series lead there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pare, D'Orio make final NHL CSS rankings

Two members of the Saint John Sea Dogs cracked NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2017 Draft.

Sea Dogs forward Cedric Pare was ranked 146th amongst North American skaters - an improvement from his midterm rank (203rd). Meanwhile, Alex D'Orio was ranked 13th amongst North American goaltenders, a slide from his No. 8 position at the midterm.

Sea Dogs prospects Shane Bowers (16th), Ben Mirageas (63rd) and Morgan Barron (98th) were also listed.

Pare, a first-round pick of the Sea Dogs in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft, had five goals and 11 assists in 54 regular season games during his first full campaign with Saint John. This post-season, the forward has one goal and one assist.

D'Orio, also a 2015 first-round pick of the Sea Dogs, went 19-4 during the regular season, recording a 2.40 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. He has not seen any action this post-season.

D'Orio was recently ranked 80th amongst all skaters and goaltenders available for the draft by Future Considerations.

According to the CHL website, only 29 QMJHL players made Central Scouting's final listing. Halifax's Nico Hischier was ranked second.

The 2017 NHL Draft takes place June 23-24 in Chicago.

Playoff Game Day: Game 3 at Val-d'Or

The Saint John Sea Dogs will look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in their second round series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs tonight. Game 3 takes place this evening at 8:30 p.m. at the Air Creebec Centre.

TV/Radio/Webcast: None/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven second round playoff series 2-0.

Last games: The Sea Dogs took Game 2 of the series on Saturday at Harbour Station, defeating the Foreurs 4-1. Cedric Pare, Julien Gauthier, Spencer Smallman and Mathieu Joseph all scored in the victory. Simon Lafrance had Val-d'Or's lone goal. Callum Booth made 17 saves in the win. Etienne Montpetit was the story again, making 49 saves in the loss.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs were 2-0-0-0 against the Foreurs during the regular season while Val-d'Or went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Foreurs: Defenceman Jason Bell and goaltender Alex Bishop.

Random stat: 12 of Saint John's 28 goals this post-season have come in third periods. They are outscoring opponents 12-1 in those stanzas.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Notes: Sea Dogs' penalty kill has been perfect

While Saint John's less-than-hot power play has been a talking point this post-season, it's worth mentioning just how good their penalty kill has been.

Through six games, the Sea Dogs have not allowed a man advantage goal on 23 opportunities. That's quite impressive, even if Saint John hasn't faced the most offensively gifted teams so far in these playoffs.

The Sea Dogs have given up 10 goals in six games - the same amount as Charlottetown and Blainville-Boisbriand. The Islanders have allowed two power play goals on 29 chances (93.1% PK) while the Armada have given up three on 17 (82.4% PK).

Saint John had the league's best penalty kill during the regular season, so all of this isn't overly surprising. Still, running at 100% through six games is pretty good.

Game 3 of Saint John's second round series takes place on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. in Val-d'Or.

Some notes...
  • The Government of New Brunswick very quietly proposed changes to its regulations for amateur athletes last week. The CHLPA folks were not happy, as CBC reports.
  • The Dallas Stars are looking for a new head coach - could that coach be Gerard Gallant?
  • On that note, Sportsnet's Doug MacLean is still upset over the Florida Panthers letting Gallant go earlier this season. MacLean brought the subject up again on Sportsnet this weekend. Gallant's replacement, Tom Rowe, will not be back as head coach next season.
  • International Scouting Services has ranked Sea Dogs prospect Shane Bowers 23rd for this year's NHL Draft. The Boston University commit now has 22 goals and 51 points in 60 games with the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks this year.
  • Meanwhile, Bowers was ranked 31st by Future Considerations. Interestingly, Sea Dogs goaltender Alex D'Orio was ranked 80th.

Alumdate: Former Sea Dogs qualify for Stanley Cup playoffs


Will this be the year a former Saint John Sea Dog lifts the Stanley Cup?

Five former Sea Dogs and their teams have qualified for the NHL's playoffs: Mike Hoffman (Ottawa), Chris DiDomenico (Ottawa) and Nathan Beaulieu (Montreal) in the Eastern Conference and Charlie Coyle (Minnesota) and Tomas Jurco (Chicago) in the Western.

Simon Despres and the Anaheim Ducks also qualified, although the ex-Dogs defenceman has been on the injured reserve almost all season. He has appeared in just one game in 2016-17.

The Sens will face the Boston Bruins in the first round with the series beginning on Wednesday at Canadian Tire Centre. Hoffman finished second on the team in scoring this season and will likely play big minutes in the playoffs. DiDomenico only appeared in three games after joining the club at mid-season.

Beaulieu, who had a career high in points this season, and the Habs will face the New York Rangers in the opening round. That series begins on Wednesday as well.

In the Western Conference, Jurco and the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Nashville Predators. That series begins on Thursday. After being traded to the Blackhawks from the Detroit Red Wings, Jurco appeared in 13 games with his new club, scoring once.

Also in the west, Coyle, who is a brand now, and the Wild will take on Jake Allen and the St. Louis Blues. That series starts on Wednesday. Coyle recorded a career high 56 points this season.

Here's a look at how Sea Dogs alumni (and one current player) performed in the NHL this season.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 4-1

FINAL: Val-d'Or 1, Saint John 4
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs had an easier time beating Etienne Montpetit on Saturday - but not much.

The Val-d'Or Foreurs goaltender was sensational again, making 50 saves in what ended up being a 4-1 Sea Dogs victory at Harbour Station. Like Friday the game remained close throughout, but instead of overtime on this night, the Sea Dogs got a key two-goal lead midway through the third, guiding them to the Game 2 win.

The victory gives Saint John a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven quarterfinal series. The next three games (if all are needed) will be played in Val-d'Or.

Cedric Pare, Julien Gauthier, Spencer Smallman and Mathieu Joseph all scored for the Dogs. It was another dominating night on offence and possession with Saint John outshooting Val-d'Or 54-18 - but Montpetit once again kept it close.

Callum Booth, although not tested much, was excellent when called upon, making 17 stops.

Simon Lafrance scored the Foreurs' lone goal.

To the notes...
  • After peppering the Foreurs with shots in the first few minutes, Pare finally beat Montpetit at 4:55 to give the Sea Dogs a 1-0 advantage.
  • The Foreurs' first shot of the game came at 14:00, a shot that that came from behind the Val-d'Or goal line. On a power play soon after, the Foreurs did create a quality scoring chance, their only one of the period.
  • Charley Graaskam had Val-d'Or's first shot of the second period near the midway mark, making a great move to get around Thomas Chabot before being stopped by Booth.
  • At 10:05, Sean O'Brien fired a shot on net that was stopped by Booth and produced a rebound. The rebound went off Lafrance in front and in, making it a 1-1 game.
  • On a power play at 13:31, Joseph was at the goal line and sent a pass to Gauthier who was parked in the slot. Gauthier ripped a shot past Montpetit, giving Saint John a 2-1 lead.
  • At 11:43 of the third, the Sea Dogs finally got some breathing room when Smallman made a deke and beat Montpetit while shorthanded. That made it 3-1 Saint John.
  • Val-d'Or pulled Montpetit with three minutes left. With 2:40 remaining, Joseph hit the empty net to make it a 4-1 final.
  • Pare's goal was his first of the playoffs.
  • Gauthier had 13 shots in the game.
  • Saint John's power play struggles continued, going 1/6.
  • As mentioned on Rogers TV, Saint John scored at even strength, on the power play, on the penalty kill and wrapped things up with an empty net goal.
  • Booth has faced less than 20 shots in five straight games.
  • Saint John has scored a league high three shorthanded goals this post-season.
  • Val-d'Or import Ivan Kozlov, who had 32 points in 53 games during the regular season, did not play.

Playoff Game Day: Game 2 vs Foreurs

After a thrilling overtime win last night, the Saint John Sea Dogs look to go up 2-0 on the Val-d'Or Foreurs in their second round playoff series this evening. Game 2 is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Rogers TV/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: The Sea Dogs lead the best-of-seven second round playoff series 1-0.

Last game: Saint John fired 68 shots on goal in a 2-1 overtime win over Val-d'Or in last night's Game 1. Spencer Smallman and Samuel Dove-McFalls scored for Saint John while the Foreurs' lone goal came from Alexis Pepin. Etienne Montpetit made an incredible 66 saves in the loss while Callum Booth made 13 in the win.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs were 2-0-0-0 against the Foreurs during the regular season while Val-d'Or went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Foreurs: Defenceman Jason Bell and goaltender Alex Bishop.

Random stat: The Sea Dogs have outscored opponents 10-1 in third periods this post-season.

A historic night for Sea Dogs shooters

What a game last night. The Saint John Sea Dogs have been victims of great goaltending in the past, but never before like that. Here's a closer look at some of the numbers from last night's 68-shot, 2-1 Sea Dogs overtime win over the Val-d'Or Foreurs.
  • The previous high for shots by the Sea Dogs in a playoff game was 64, set during Game 4 of the 2011 President Cup final in Gatineau. The shot total was high in that game because it went to double overtime.
  • The team record - regular season and playoffs combined - was also broken on Friday. The previous high was 67, set on Jan. 11, 2011 (but that game didn't have the OT period).
  • The league record for shots in a playoff game is 89, set by the Hull Olympiques in 1999. Saint John's total last night places them in a tie for eighth all-time.
  • Kyle Ward was the only Sea Dog without a shot on goal last night. Julien Gauthier, Matthew Highmore and Cole Reginato led the way with seven each.
  • The 14 shots against were the second fewest the Sea Dogs have ever faced in a playoff game. The team record is 12, set in this year's opening round against Rimouski.
  • The Sea Dogs gave up just one shot in the third period. Saint John has given up zero shots in a period at least once in their regular season history (Jan. 24, 2010 in Gatineau).
  • As brought up during an intermission on Rogers TV, you have to wonder if these kinds of games are putting some rust on Callum Booth. Booth has faced more than 20 shots just once this post-season - and that was in Game 1 of the first round. He did make some key saves last night, though.
  • Saint John's power play connected last night, but still didn't look great at times. They are now 3/21 on the man advantage this post-season.
  • As mentioned by Danny Flynn during the Sea Dogs pre-game show on 96.1 NewSong FM, the two teams that were ranked above Saint John in the final CHL Top 10 - Regina at No. 1 and Erie at No. 2 - both lost their series opening games. Owen Sound, ranked fourth, also lost their first game.
  • A few tweets:

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.

NOTES
  • 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.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five things to watch for in quarterfinal


The Saint John Sea Dogs' quarterfinal playoff series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs begins tonight at Harbour Station. Here are some things to watch for in this series.

1. Val-d'Or's momentum
There's no question that the Foreurs are massive underdogs heading into this series. But after pulling off a big upset over the No. 3 seeded Shawinigan Cataractes in the opening round, the Foreurs will no doubt be carrying some confidence into this series. Translating that confidence into victories will be a challenge against a Saint John team that, I believe, anyways, is quite a bit better than the Cataractes. But we'll see!

2. Saint John's power play
Saint John had the QMJHL's best power play for the most of the regular season and was a key part of the team's success. In the first round against Rimouski though, the Sea Dogs' power play scored just two goals on 16 chances, even allowing a shorthanded goal. Saint John has the worst power play ranking of any remaining team. The Oceanic no doubt put a focus on the Sea Dogs' PP, but will the Foreurs be able to contain it as well?

3. Val-d'Or's penalty kill
Speaking of special teams, Val-d'Or had the worst penalty kill in the league during the regular season and have the second worst so far this post-season. However, they've found a plan to improve this - they aren't taking penalties. The Foreurs averaged a league low 7.67 penalty minutes per game in the opening round. If Saint John can get its power play going and get Val-d'Or to take penalties, it could be a short series.

Playoff Game Day: Game 1 vs Foreurs

The Saint John Sea Dogs begin their second round series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs tonight at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Rogers TV/96.1 NewSong FM/QMJHL Live

Series status: This is the first game of the best-of-seven second round playoff series.

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 4-3 win in Rimouski on March 29. Saint John goals came from Thomas Chabot, Kyle Ward, Matthew Highmore and Simon Bourque. Callum Booth made 13 saves in the win. The Foreurs are coming off a 5-1 home win over the Shawinigan Cataractes on April 2. Charley Graaskamp scored two goals while singles came from Maxim Mizyurin, Mathieu Nadeau and Alexis Pepin. Etienne Montpetit made 38 saves in the victory.

2016-17 regular season head-to-head: The Sea Dogs were 2-0-0-0 against the Foreurs during the regular season while Val-d'Or went 0-2-0-0 against Saint John.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Foreurs: Defenceman Jason Bell and goaltender Alex Bishop.

Random stat: Saint John had the best power play (29.9%) during the regular season while Val-d'Or had the worst penalty kill (71.1%).

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Wildcats tumble in draft lottery

The Moncton Wildcats suffered yet another loss on Thursday.

After finishing the 2016-17 season dead last in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a record of 14-51-2-1, the Wildcats had the best odds - 43% - of winning the draft lottery. Much like the Wildcats' season, things did not go well.

Moncton fell as far as they could under the lottery rules and will now select third overall. The Rimouski Oceanic, who had a 14% chance of winning, will now select first overall.

The top five picks are as follows:

1. Rimouski Oceanic
2. Sherbrooke Phoenix
3. Moncton Wildcats
4. Halifax Mooseheads
5. Val-d’Or Foreurs

Here is the full order (as of now):
The 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft will take place June 3 at Harbour Station.

The good news for the Wildcats is that this is expected to be a good draft. Alexis Lafreniere, who had 83 points in 36 games in Quebec midget AAA this season, is expected to be taken first overall.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Chabot, Flynn win QMJHL awards


The Saint John Sea Dogs were big winners at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Golden Puck Awards, which were held Wednesday evening in Quebec City.

Thomas Chabot won the Émile "Butch" Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL's Defenceman of the Year and the Paul-Dumont Trophy as the league's Personality of the Year.
Chabot is the second Sea Dog to win the Defenceman of the Year honour, joining Simon Despres who won in 2011. Jonathan Huberdeau won the Personality of the Year award in 2012.

The 20-year-old (although is junior hockey age is 19) Chabot is very likely in his final year with the Sea Dogs. He posted 10 goals and 45 points in 34 regular season games with Saint John and added another three goals and 10 points in the first round of the playoffs.

Sea Dogs head coach Danny Flynn also picked up an award Wednesday, winning the Ron-Lapointe Trophy as QMJHL Coach of the Year. Flynn previously won the award with the Moncton Wildcats in 2009.

This is the third time a Sea Dogs coach has won the award. Gerard Gallant won in 2010 and 2011.

Both Chabot and Flynn are now nominated for CHL awards in their respective categories. The national awards will be handed out during Memorial Cup week in Windsor.

UPDATE: Chabot was also named to the QMJHL's first all-star team. Simon Bourque and Mathieu Joseph made the second team.

Quispamsis native Anderson MacDonald of the Sherbrooke Phoenix was named to the all-rookie team.

Eagles advance; Memorial Cup hosts done

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are moving on to the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Screaming Eagles advanced to the next round after winning their series against the Gatineau Olympiques in seven games. After blowing a 3-0 series lead, the Eagles managed to clinch the series with a 5-4 overtime win Tuesday night at Centre 200.
The Eagles' win extends the QMJHL career of former Sea Dog Olivier Leblanc. The Olympiques' loss ends the junior career of ex-Dog Daniel Del Paggio.

Tuesday's result means we now know who will play who in the second round. Here are the matchups:

Saint John (1) vs Val-d'Or (14)
Rouyn-Noranda (2) vs Chicoutimi (8)
Charlottetown (4) vs Cape Breton (7)
Blainville-Boisbriand (5) vs Bathurst (6)

The second round begins Thursday in Charlottetown and Boisbriand.

In the OHL, the Memorial Cup hosting Windsor Spitfires had their season come to an end, falling 3-2 to the London Knights in Game 7 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. London will now face the Erie Otters in the second round, setting up another huge matchup.

And in related news, the OHL's playoff format is ridiculous and needs to be changed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sea Dogs to face Foreurs in next round


The Saint John Sea Dogs will face the Val-d'Or Foreurs in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

This will be the first ever playoff meeting between the two.

The Foreurs surprisingly advanced to the second round by upsetting the third-seeded Shawinigan Cataractes in six games. The 14th-seeded Foreurs got excellent goaltending from Etienne Montpetit (2.35 GAA and .937 SV%) and he'll need to be great again if they hope to pull off another upset.

Saint John swept the Rimouski Oceanic in the opening round, having little trouble other than a hard fought Game 4.

On paper, this should be an easy series win for Saint John. The Sea Dogs are the No. 1 seed, finishing with 102 points. The Foreurs finished with 61 points and didn't secure their playoff spot until the final week of the regular season. But, Val-d'Or upsetting Shawinigan is big, and, as we've seen in the past, teams like the Foreurs can often give teams like Saint John a good challenge in the second round (remember Victoriaville in 2011). It could end up being another easy series for the Dogs - but it could also be quite a challenge.

The Sea Dogs won both regular season meetings against the Foreurs, recording a 4-2 road win on Oct. 15 and a 4-1 home win on Oct. 21.

Val-d'Or features former Sea Dogs defenceman Jason Bell and goaltender Alex Bishop. Saint John features former Foreurs star forward Julien Gauthier.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night at Harbour Station.

The Foreurs-Sea Dogs series was confirmed on Monday night with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies eliminating the Halifax Mooseheads. Another second round series has also been confirmed: the Acadie-Bathurst Titan will face the Blainville-Boisberiand Armada.

The Huskies, Charlottetown Islanders and Chicoutimi Sagueneens have also already advanced to the second round.

There is still one first round series that has yet to end. The Gatineau Olympiques, who were once down 3-0 in the series, have forced a Game 7 on Tuesday against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.