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.
- 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.
SCRATCHESHere is tonight's Game #4 lineup for your #SJSeaDogs brought to you by @CantrburyDental #AlwaysWearYourMouthGuard pic.twitter.com/sY5NUYsrgl— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) April 12, 2017
Forward Samuel Leblanc, defenceman David Comeau and goaltender Matt Williams were healthy scratches. Landon Quinney (appendicitis), Oliver Felixson (cancer treatments) and Ian Smallwood were not in Val-d'Or for this trip.
A pair of goals by Joe Veleno and Simon Bourque, just over a minute apart, before the three minute mark of the opening frame set the tone for another dominating performance by the Sea Dogs
SN STARS OF THE GAME
1. Spencer Smallman
2. Julien Gauthier
3. Simon Bourque
The Sea Dogs will host Game 1 of the semifinals at Harbour Station. Stay tuned for further details.