Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Luke Green signs with AHL's Moose


Former Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Luke Green has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose.

Green, a third-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 NHL Draft, will not be appearing in the QMJHL playoffs as his Sherbrooke Phoenix failed to qualify. Many junior players who have their seasons end early join the farm teams of their respective NHL clubs this time of year.

The Sea Dogs selected Green first overall in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft and played in two-and-a-half seasons with Saint John. He was traded to Sherbrooke during this season's holiday trading period.

Green's twin bother, Matt, remains with the Sea Dogs.

In 181 career QMJHL games, Green has 21 goals and 87 assists. He's added two goals and four assists in 18 playoff games.

The Moose are currently the fifth worst team in the AHL, which may be a good thing for Green in terms of playing time.

Manitoba also announced today that they've signed UNB Varsity Reds forward and former QMJHLer Francis Beauvillier to an ATO.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Notes: Will 2017 be 2011 all over again?

Could New Brunswick sports history repeat itself in 2017?

The UNB Varsity Reds won a national championship on home ice on Sunday. It was just the second time the Varsity Reds had won the University Cup at the Aitken Centre and the first since 2011.

As Saint John Sea Dogs fans will remember, 2011 was a special year down the highway as well, with the Dogs becoming the first team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup.

Like 2011, the Sea Dogs will enter the playoffs as one of the top teams in the Canadian Hockey League and the No. 1 seed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. And like 2011, the Memorial Cup will be played in southern Ontario.

Will the V-Reds and Sea Dogs both win national championships in 2017? It's a possibility.

Saint John's 2016-17 playoff run begins at Harbour Station on Friday night against the Rimouski Oceanic.

Some notes..
  • This year's Memorial Cup hosts, the Windsor Spitfires, are in tough to make it out of the first round of the OHL playoffs. Playing in a ridiculously stacked Western Conference, the Spits are forced to play the London Knights in the opening round.
  • The Erie Otters became the first team in CHL history to record four straight 50-win seasons. The Sea Dogs were one of the few teams to be tied for the previous record with three.
  • Sea Dogs goaltender Callum Booth has been named the QMJHL's second star for the month of March. According to the league's release, "in five games where he was credited with the win in all of them, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect maintained a 1.20 goals against average and 0.946 save percentage, as well as obtaining one shutout."
  • In The Hockey News' Future Watch, Thomas Chabot was named one of hockey's top prospects.

Highmore named Sea Dogs' MVP

Matthew Highmore has been named the Saint John Sea Dogs' most valuable player for the 2016-17 season.

Highmore won the honour at the team's annual awards banquet, which was held on Monday night at the Delta Brunswick.

Here is the full list of award winners:

Bell Aliant Most Valuable Player - Matthew Highmore
Pepsi Top Scorer - Matthew Highmore
Sun Life Global Investments Top Defenceman - Thomas Chabot
Children’s Wish Foundation Fans Choice Award - Thomas Chabot
Tim Hortons Most Improved Player - Bokondji Imama
Irving Oil Team Player Award - Cole Reginato
Scotiabank Community Service Award - Spencer Smallman
Alpine Three Stars Award - Mathieu Joseph
Saint John Airport Academic Player of the Year - Callum Booth
Grant Thornton Rookie of the Year - Alex D'Orio

The Sea Dogs begin first round playoff action against the Rimouski Oceanic on Friday night at Harbour Station.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

UNB repeats as national champions

FREDERICTON - The UNB Varsity Reds are national champions once again.

The V-Reds repeated at U Sports men's hockey champions with a 5-3 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies this afternoon in the University Cup final.

The Varsity Reds feature four former Saint John Sea Dogs: Mike Thomas, Stephen Anderson, Oliver Cooper and Matt Murphy.

Murphy and Anderson were both in the UNB lineup this afternoon. Thomas took the warm up but was the final scratch. Cooper was scratched as well.

Thomas red-shirted with the Varsity Reds in 2013 when they won the University Cup and was with the team last season when they won nationals in Halifax. Anderson was also with the Reds last season while Murphy and Cooper are both in their first year at UNB.
It's the seventh U Sports title for the Varsity Reds but the first time they have gone back-to-back.

In the bronze medal game, played this morning at 9:30 a.m. (seriously), the StFX X-Men fell 7-3 to their AUS rivals, the Acadia Axemen. The X-Men feature former Dogs forwards Mark Tremaine and Marcus Cuomo.

Sea Dogs alumni play for gold today

FREDERICTON - Several former Saint John Sea Dogs have a shot at U Sports gold today.

The UNB Varsity Reds, who have a roster featuring Mike Thomas, Stephen Anderson, Oliver Cooper and Matt Murphy, will take on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at 1 p.m. in the University Cup final in Fredericton.

The game can be watched live on Sportsnet 360.

The Varsity Reds, ranked No. 1 in U Sports, defeated the Queen's Gaels 5-1 in the quarterfinals and the Acadia Axemen 3-0 in the semifinals. Anderson had a goal in Saturday's semifinal.

Anderson and Murphy will be in the UNB lineup for sure this afternoon. Cooper is unlikely while Thomas is also questionable - especially after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging yesterday. Thomas has been in-and-out of the UNB lineup this season.

Today's game should be a challenge for UNB. Saskatchewan has been one of the best teams in Canada all season and have yet to allow a goal in this tournament, defeating the York Lions 1-0 and the StFX X-Men 8-0.

The Varsity Reds will be looking for their seventh national championship in program history but have never won titles back-to-back. They can accomplish that feat this year, having won it all in 2016.

This morning's bronze medal game featured the X-Men and Axemen. StFX features former Dogs Mark Tremaine and Marcus Cuomo.

Sea Dogs to play Oceanic in first round

The Saint John Sea Dogs will face the Rimouski Oceanic in the opening round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.

The Oceanic were slotted into the 16th and final playoff spot yesterday, meaning they will have the pleasure of facing the top-seeded Sea Dogs in the first round.

The league released its full schedule last night. As expected, this will be a 2-2-1-1-1 scheduling format with Saint John hosting the first two games along with games five and seven, if needed.
Single game tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at the usual outlets.

Rimouski finished the regular season with a record of 26-35-6-1 for 59 points. Saint John finished with a 48-14-5-1 record for 102 points.

The Sea Dogs won both of the regular season meetings between the two. Saint John defeated Rimouski 5-1 on the road in November and then blew out the Oceanic, 9-3, in March at Harbour Station.

Some former teammates will go head-to-head in this series. The Sea Dogs feature former Oceanic captain Simon Bourque while Rimouski has former Saint John forward Nico Blachman and defenceman Vincent Martineau.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 2-1

FINAL: Saint John 2, Halifax 1
HALIFAX - Another intentionally shorthanded Saint John Sea Dogs lineup took to the ice on Saturday - but this time they had a much better result.

Joe Veleno and Bokondji Imama both scored in Saint John's 2-1 road victory over the Halifax Mooseheads at Scotiabank Centre.

It was the second straight game that saw the Sea Dogs rest several regulars. The Sea Dogs fell 6-3 in Charlottetown on Friday.

Maxime Fortier gave Halifax a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period. The Sea Dogs tied it on a power play at 6:28 of the second when Veleno scored his 13th of the season.

Less than 30 seconds after Veleno's goal, Imama netted his 41st of the year to give Saint John a 2-1 advantage.

Alex D'Orio made 23 saves in the win. Alexis Gravel made 28 stops in the loss.

The win gives the Sea Dogs a final record of 48-14-5-1. The team clinched first overall on Wednesday, which allowed the Dogs to rest several regulars over the past two games.

Saint John will face the Rimouski Oceanic, the 16th seed, in the opening round.

Game Day 68: at Halifax

The Saint John Sea Dogs (47-14-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL, 1st CHL) close out their regular season today in Halifax with a 4 p.m. matchup against the Mooseheads (27-34-3-3, 5th Maritimes, 13th QMJHL).

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 6-3 loss in Charlottetown last night. Bokondji Imama scored twice while Isiah Campbell added a solo marker. Alex D'Orio made 31 saves in the loss. The Mooseheads are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles last night. Arnaud Durandeau and Frederic Aube scored for the Moose. Alexis Gravel made 35 stops in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 5-2-0-0 against the Mooseheads this season while Halifax is 2-5-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: March 11 at Harbour Station where the Sea Dogs defeated the Mooseheads 5-3. Cole Reginato, Thomas Chabot, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Spencer Smallman and Joe Veleno all scored for Saint John. Otto Somppi scored a pair for Halifax while Raphael Lavoie added a single. Alex D'Orio made 27 saves in the win. Alexis Gravel made 21 stops in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Mooseheads: Goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon.

Random stat: Saint John enters play today with the league's best power play (30.3%) and penalty kill (85.3%) - and it will likely end the year in top spot.

RECAP: Sea Dogs lose 6-3

FINAL: Saint John 3, Charlottetown 6
CHARLOTTETOWN - An intentionally shorthanded Saint John Sea Dogs squad suffered a 6-3 loss to the Charlottetown Islanders on Friday at a sold out Eastlink Centre.

The Islanders scored four times and outshot the Sea Dogs 14-4 in the first period, guiding the home side to victory. Saint John had a better showing in the final 40 minutes but could not catch up to Charlottetown on the scoreboard.

Having already clinched first overall in the QMJHL, Saint John opted to sit several of its regular players, giving them some rest before the playoffs.

Charlottetown goals came from Nicolas Meloche, Pascal Aquin, Filip Chlapik, Daniel Sprong, Chris Chaddock and Alex Dostie. Mark Grametbauer made 30 saves in the win.

Saint John had a pair of goals from Bokondji Imama and a solo marker from call up Isiah Campbell. Alex D'Orio made 31 saves in the loss.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Game Day 67: at Charlottetown

The Saint John Sea Dogs (47-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL, 1st CHL) carry an eight-game winning streak into tonight's road game against the Charlottetown Islanders (45-17-4-0, 2nd Maritimes, 4th QMJHL, 7th CHL). Game time is 7 p.m.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 5-0 win in Moncton on Wednesday night. Spencer Smallman scored twice while singles came from Chase Stewart, Mathieu Joseph and Matthew Highmore. Callum Booth made 27 saves in the shutout win. The Islanders are coming off a 6-5 overtime loss in Halifax on Wednesday. Alex Dostie had a pair of goals with solo markers coming from Filip Chlapik, Kameron Kielly and Francois Beauchemin. Mark Grametbauer made 33 saves in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 6-1-1-0 against the Islanders this season while Charlottetown is 2-6-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: March 10 at Harbour Station where the Sea Dogs defeated the Islanders 5-1. Spencer Smallman had a pair of goals while singles came from Mathieu Joseph, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Julien Gauthier. Alex Dostie scored Charlottetown's lone goal. Callum Booth made 27 saves in the win. Matthew Welsh made 28 stops in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Islanders: Forward Adam Marsh.

Random stat: The Sea Dogs have earned points in 14 straight games (12-0-2-0).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

University Cup begins today in Fredericton

Former Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Matt Murphy has been named to the U Sports all-rookie team.

Murphy, who is in his first year with the UNB Varsity Reds, was named to the team at the U Sports men's hockey awards gala last night in Fredericton.
Former Rimouski Oceanic forward Anthony DeLuca also made the team. The full list can be found here.

Murphy recorded three goals and 10 assists in 30 games with the Varsity Reds this season. He's also featured prominently in a new UNB commercial.


Murphy is one of six former Sea Dogs who will compete for the University Cup this week in Fredericton. Along with Murphy, the Varsity Reds feature Mike Thomas, Stephen Anderson and Oliver Cooper. UNB, seeded fifth after losing the Atlantic University Sport championship to the StFX X-Men, play their first game tonight at 8 p.m. against the Queen's Gaels.

The other ex-Dogs playing in the tournament are StFX forwards Mark Tremaine and Marcus Cuomo. The X-Men begin play tomorrow night against the McGill Redmen.

The semifinals take place on Saturday with the bronze and gold medal games set for Sunday.

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 5-0

FINAL: Saint John 5, Moncton 0
MONCTON - The Saint John Sea Dogs are regular season champions once again.

The Sea Dogs clinched the QMJHL's regular season title for the fourth time in franchise history on Wednesday night in Moncton, defeating the Wildcats 5-0.

Not only does the victory give the Sea Dogs home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, it also gives the team 100 points for the fourth time and the Maritimes Division title for a second consecutive season.

Spencer Smallman scored twice in Saint John's eighth straight victory while Mathieu Joseph, Chase Stewart and Matthew Highmore added singles. Callum Booth made 17 saves to earn the shutout.

Matthew Waite had a solid performance in the Wildcats' net, keeping Moncton in it for much of the game. He made 42 stops in the loss.

To the notes...
  • Saint John opened the scoring just 45 seconds in when Joseph deflected a shot past Waite, making it 1-0.
  • Despite scoring just once, the Sea Dogs were dominant in the opening frame, outshooting the Wildcats 17-4.
  • The Sea Dogs continued to pour the pressure on in the second period but had a difficult time beating Waite.
  • Finally, at 13:16, Stewart fired a shot from the blue line that beat an out-of-position and/or distracted Waite, giving Saint John a 2-0 advantage.
  • Smallman made it 3-0 Saint John at 17:41, finishing off a shorthanded two-on-one with Jakub Zboril. 
  • Saint John scored again midway through the third, on a goal from Cole Reginato, but the goal was called off due to the play being offside. 
  • The Sea Dogs officially made it 4-0 at 13:57 of the third on a five-on-three advantage. Joseph showed great patience in front, forcing Waite to go down before sending the puck over to Highmore for an open net goal.
  • Kyle Ward was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging at 17:24. On the ensuing penalty kill, Smallman scored his second shorthanded goal of the game at 18:11, making it a 5-0 final.
  • With an assist on Saint John's first goal, Thomas Chabot became the Sea Dogs' franchise leader in defencemen scoring.
  • Stewart's goal was his third of the season.
  • Smallman extended his point streak to eight games. He now has 30 goals on the season.
  • Saint John scored their league leading 19th and 20th shorthanded goals of the season.
  • Julien Gauthier returned to the Saint John lineup after missing Saturday's game with an injury.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Game Day 66: at Moncton

The Saint John Sea Dogs (46-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL, 1st CHL) are in Moncton tonight to face the Wildcats (14-48-2-1, 6th Maritimes, 18th QMJHL) for the final time this season.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 5-3 home win over the Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday at Harbour Station. Cole Reginato, Thomas Chabot, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Spencer Smallman and Joe Veleno all scored for Saint John. Alex D'Orio made 27 saves in the victory. The Wildcats are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Sydney on Saturday. Julien Tessier and Anthony Wojcik scored for Moncton. Matthew Waite made 38 saves in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 6-1-0-1 against the Wildcats this season while Moncton is 2-6-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: Jan. 28 in Moncton where the Sea Dogs defeated the Wildcats 5-2. Bokondji Imama had two goals for the Dogs while singles came from Matt Green, Kyle Ward and Matthew Highmore. Charles Taillon and Jeremy McKenna scored for the 'Cats. Callum Booth made 18 saves in the win. Matthew Waite made 47 stops in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Wildcats: Forward Julien Tessier.

Random stat: Samuel Dove-McFalls carries a four-game goal scoring streak into tonight's game. Over his past 12 games, Dove-McFalls has five goals and nine assists.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Alumdate: Sea Dogs in the show


Two games into his NHL career, Chris DiDomenico is still in search of his first point.

DiDomenico, who left his team in Switzerland to sign with the Ottawa Senators recently, made his NHL debut on March 9 in Arizona. The former Sea Dogs star found the scoresheet in an unfortunate way, picking up two minor penalties in 6:55 of ice time.

The 28-year-old also played in the Senators' March 11 game in Colorado, picking up another minor penalty in 9:15 of ice time.

It'll be interesting to see how much DiDomenico is used down the stretch with the Senators battling for playoff positioning.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Huberdeau has been a welcomed addition to the Florida Panthers lineup, recording five goals and eight assists in 16 games. He missed the entire first half with an injury. The Panthers aren't out of the playoff picture just yet, but they will need some things to go their way if they want to make it in.

Nathan Beaulieu will be a healthy scratch tonight when the Montreal Canadiens take on Tomas Jurco's Chicago Blackhawks.
Jurco, who was recently traded to the Blackhawks by the Detroit Red Wings, has been held pointless in six games with Chicago.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Notes: Imama, Gauthier had similar breakout seasons

Bokondji Imama could become just the fifth Saint John Sea Dog to score 40 goals in a regular season.

With three games remaining on the schedule, Imama has 38 goals. You'd have to think he has a decent shot at reaching the 40-goal mark with two of the team's remaining three matches against the struggling Moncton Wildcats and Halifax Mooseheads.

The last player to score 40 or more goals for the Sea Dogs was Danick Gauthier in 2011-12. His 47 goals that year remains a team record.
Gauthier and Imama have a lot in common. After spending most of their junior careers as grinders and energy line type guys, both had breakout offensive seasons in their overage year.

Here's Gauthier's career numbers:
And Imama's:
Gauthier entered his 20-year-old season with 29 career QMJHL goals. Imama had 30.

Oddly, Imama is a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick while Gauthier was signed by the Lightning as a free agent during the 2011-12 campaign.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Aces, Dogs prospects heading to playoffs

The St. Stephen Aces are heading to the Maritime Hockey League playoffs for the first time in team history.

The Aces' spot in the post-season was confirmed this afternoon with the Summerside Western Capitals defeating the Woodstock Slammers. The Woodstock loss allowed the Aces to stay two points ahead and finish the regular season fourth in the Eastlink North Division.

St. Stephen kept their playoff hopes alive with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the Dieppe Commandos on on Saturday. The game-winning goal was setup by Saint John Sea Dogs prospect Alex Lafreniere.


The Aces finished the regular season with a record of 16-25-6-3 and will now face the Miramichi Timberwolves (35-12-2-1) in the opening round of the playoffs.

Along with Lafreniere, the Aces feature Ben Reid (seventh round pick, 2015) and Matthew O'Leary (12th round, 2015).

Sea Dogs' attendance rises significantly

Back-to-back sellout crowds pushed the Saint John Sea Dogs' average attendance to just over 4,200 fans per game this season.

Saint John's average of 4,201 fans per game was good for third best in the league this year, trailing only Quebec (9,289 with two home games left) and Halifax (6,682 with three home games left). It's just the second time the Sea Dogs have reached the top three in league attendance - mostly thanks to the Moncton Wildcats having one of their worst seasons in history.

More impressive than the final average is how much Saint John's attendance increased compared to last year. The Sea Dogs saw an increase of 572 fans per game on average, which is a significant jump in junior hockey. It's the biggest increase in team history.

Here's a look at Saint John's attendance through the years.

SeasonTotalAverage
2005-06156,6944,477 (4th)
2006-07134,3543,839 (6th)
2007-08139,2143,978 (5th)
2008-09133,6133,930 (5th)
2009-10140,7794,141 (4th)
2010-11152,2374,478 (4th)
2011-12155,0604,561 (3rd)
2012-13135,7323,992 (4th)
2013-14116,3803,423 (5th)
2014-15121,7823,582 (5th)
2015-16123,3993,629 (4th)
2016-17142,8294,201 (3rd)

This year's average was the highest since 2011-12 when a franchise record 4,561 fans per game watched the Sea Dogs win their third consecutive regular season title.

With a week left in the regular season, the league average is 3,105 fans per game - which should rise given most teams have large crowds for their final few home games. The league average last season was 3,404.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are having one of their worst seasons ever at the gate - although it will likely be offset by a big increase when their new building opens in 2018-19. In happier news, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan had their best total attendance since 2007-08.

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 5-3

FINAL: Halifax 3, Saint John 5
Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs closed our their regular season home schedule on Saturday night, defeating the Halifax Mooseheads 5-3.

Goal scorers for the Sea Dogs were Cole Reginato, Thomas Chabot, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Spencer Smallman and Joe Veleno. Alex D’Orio picked up the win for the Sea Dogs, stopping 27 shots.

Answering for the Mooseheads were Otto Somppi (two) and Raphael Lavoie. Alexis Gravel took the loss for the Mooseheads, managing to stop 21 shots.

To the notes…
  • The Mooseheads got on the scoreboard first at 9:10 of the opening frame when Otto Somppi lifted a shot in tight up and over starter D’Orio.
  • Reginato would even things at a goal apiece, tapping home a feed from Dove-McFalls through the five hole of Gravel at 16:16.
  • Somppi would get his second of the period at 18:13. The Mooseheads skated in on a two-on-one play and Somppi finished it off by firing a wrist shot by D’Orio.
  • Next it was time for the Thomas Chabot show as he provided another one of his highlight reel coast-to-coast skates before beating Gravel up high at 9:02 of the second, tying the game 2-2.
  • The Sea Dogs didn’t keep fans waiting long for the go ahead goal as Dove-McFalls jumped on a loose puck and fired it past Gravel at 9:20 to make it 3-2 Dogs.
  • Smallman would continue the Sea Dogs' push at 11:48, finishing off a two-on-ome rush after taking a feed from Veleno.
  • Veleno put the polish on an excellent second period by the Sea Dogs, tipping home a Simon Bourque point shot and extending the lead to 5-2 at 18:02.
  • Lavoie was credited with a goal that was deflected in front of D’Orio to close the gap to 5-3 at 9:20 of the third period. That would be as close as the Moose would get.
  • The Sea Dogs held a pre-game ceremony to recognize their three overage players: Spencer Smallman, Matthew Highmore and Bokondji Imama. Each player had a brief video tribute, received jerseys from their parents and had a standing ovation from the crowd.
  • Oliver Felixson was given a standing ovation when it was announced that today was his 19th birthday.
  • This marked the first time this season that Chabot has faced the Mooseheads.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Game Day 65: vs Mooseheads

After recording one of their biggest wins of the season last night, the Saint John Sea Dogs (45-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL, 1st CHL)  are back at it today, hosting the Halifax Mooseheads (26-33-2-3, 5th Maritimes, 15th QMJHL) at 7 p.m.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 5-1 win over the Charlottetown Islanders last night at Harbour Station. Spencer Smallman scored twice while singles came from Mathieu Joseph, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Julien Gauthier. Callum Booth made 27 saves in the win. The Mooseheads are coming off a 3-1 loss in Bathurst last night. Raphael Lavoie scored Halifax's lone goal while Alexis Gravel made 38 saves in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 4-2-0-0 against the Mooseheads this season while Halifax is 2-4-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: March 1 at Harbour Station where the Sea Dogs defeated the Mooseheads 4-2. Matthew Highmore, Julien Guathier, Spencer Smallman and Bokondji Imama all scored for Saint John. Jared McIsaac and Keigan Goetz scored for Halifax. Alex D'Orio made 27 saves in the win. Alexis Gravel made 22 stops in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Mooseheads: Goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon.

Random stat:

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 5-1

FINAL: Charlottetown 1, Saint John 5
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs issued a clear statement during a convincing 5-1 victory over the Charlottetown Islanders - in front of a sold out crowd of 6,187 - at Harbour Station Friday evening.

The playoff like atmosphere was enhanced by four bus loads of Islanders fans, who witnessed the Sea Dogs stretch their lead ahead of Charlottetown, atop the QMJHL, to five points. Four games remain in the regular season for both clubs.

The buzz leading up to this game was electric with several pundits giving the edge to the Islanders in light of several recent offensive explosions. However, the Sea Dogs proved the mettle as they rallied together - following sad news about teammate Oliver Felixson's pending battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma - to win one for Ollie.

Callum Booth was outstanding in goal for Saint John with 27 - often highlight reel - saves. Mathieu Joseph led the Sea Dogs offence with one goal and three assists. Meanwhile, captain Spencer Smallman added two goals, Julien Gauthier had a goal and an assist, Samuel Dove-McFalls added a goal and Simon Bourque chipped in two assists.

Alex Dostie replied for Charlottetown. Matthew Welsh stopped 28 shots in the loss.

NOTES
  • As an omen of what lie ahead, Bokondji Imama ripped a shot off Welsh's mask in the opening seconds of the game but the puck deflected barely over the cross bar.
  • The Sea Dogs would open the scoring at 3:24 when Joseph deposited the rebound of a Thomas Chabot bomb past Welsh.
  • Exactly four minutes later, while skating shorthanded, Joseph and Dove-McFalls picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and then played two man tic-tac-toe with Dove-McFalls, snapping the puck past Welsh to put the hosts up 2-0.
  • That goal was the Sea Dogs league leading 18th short handed marker this season.
  • Late in the first, Imama accepted an invitation to dance from towering Islanders defenceman Tyler MacArthur and scored a TKO with a flurry of blows ending with an uppercut that buckled MacArthur's knees.
  • The officials took over in period two with six power plays (four for Charlottetown and two favouring Saint John) - yet no goals were scored in the middle frame.
  • However, the referees still managed to draw the ire of the Sea Dogs staff and fans alike as several late hits, open ice tackles and, most notably, at least three cheap shots against Booth went uncalled.
  • Not only was Joseph on fire offensively but he made the defensive play of the game late in the second when he stick checked Daniel Sprong just as the Islander superstar was about to shoot at an open net behind a fallen Booth.
  • The Islanders bad behaviour caught up with them in the third as Saint John scored three power plays goals to seal the win.
  • First up was Smallman at 2:43, when the captain received a pass from Matthew Highmore in the high slot and unloaded a heavy snap shot which beat Welsh short side.
  • Dostie electrified the Islanders fans in attendance at 9:08 when he accepted a lead pass - from Saint John native William Bower - in full flight, split the Sea Dogs defence and fired a laser over Booth's glove to bring Charlottetown back to within two.
  • A pair of high sticking penalties by the Islanders late in the third proved costly. While skating five-on-three at 13:43, Gauthier took a back door feed from Joseph near the goal line and calmly sent a laser into the top shelf. 
  • Just under a minute later - at 14:21 - Smallman collected the rebound off a Gauthier shot near the edge of the crease and snapped it behind Welsh to make the final 5-1.
  • The sibling rivalry between brothers Mathieu and Pierre-Olivier Joseph boiled over in the dying minutes when they were sent to their rooms after rough housing deep the Islanders zone. It's likely that Mama Joseph will send them to bed without a bed night snack as added punishment.
  • The Sea Dogs team defence is to be commended for their strong effort once again in preventing Sprong from earning a point against Saint John thus far this season.
  • Sprong entered Friday's contest with 12 points in his previous three games (and 50 points in 26 games prior to Friday), including four goals and three assists in his last game against Moncton.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Game Day 64: vs Islanders

One of the biggest games of the season takes place tonight at Harbour Station as the Saint John Sea Dogs (44-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL, 1st CHL) host the Charlottetown Islanders (44-16-3-0, 2nd Maritimes, 4th QMJHL, 6th CHL) tonight at 7 p.m.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 3-1 home win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Tuesday. Spencer Smallman, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Simon Bourque scored for Saint John. Callum Booth made 24 saves in the victory. The Islanders are coming off a 12-3 beating of the Moncton Wildcats on Wednesday at Eastlink Centre. Daniel Sprong had four goals, Francois Beauchemin three and Alex Dostie two. Singles came from Keith Getson, Guillaume Brisebois and Chris Chaddock. Mark Grametbauer made 27 saves in the victory.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 5-1-1-0 against the Islanders this season while Charlottetown is 2-5-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: Feb. 14 at Eastlink Centre where the Sea Dogs edged the Islanders 2-1. Thomas Chabot and Nathan Noel had Saint John goals. Tyler MacArthur scored for Charlottetown. Callum Booth made 28 saves in the win. Mark Grametbauer made 22 saves in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Islanders: Forward Adam Marsh.

Random stat: Daniel Sprong has really been living up to the hype of late. The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect is coming off a seven-point game on Wednesday to give him 30 goals and 20 assists in just 26 games. He has been held pointless in two games against Saint John this year, though.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

DiDomenico expected to make NHL debut tonight

Chris DiDomenico is expected to make his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators tonight.

The 28-year-old hasn't played in North America since the 2011-12 season where he split the year in the American and East Coast hockey leagues.

It's been a long road for DiDomenico, who was drafted into the NHL by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixth-round of the 2007 draft.

Senators head coach Guy Boucher told the Ottawa Citizen that he expects the former Saint John Sea Dogs forward to be, obviously, a bit nervous in his debut.

The Sens are in Arizona to face the Coyotes at 10 p.m. Atlantic. The game can be seen on TSN5.
Puck Daddy also has a nice story.

DiDomenico joined the Sea Dogs as a free agent in 2006. He became one of the team's first stars, playing with the club up until the 2009 world juniors where he was then traded to Drummondville - in a deal that  later involved current Senators forward Mike Hoffman.

In 203 career QMJHL games, DiDomenico registered 90 goals and 251 points.

DiDomenico signed a one-way deal with the Senators for this season on Feb. 27.

The Woodbridge, ON native has spent the past five seasons overseas, playing with the SCL Tigers for the past three. This season, DiDomenico has 10 goals and 28 assists in 48 games.

Felixson diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma

Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Oliver Felixson has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, the team announced at a press conference this morning.

Felixson will, obviously, "be out of the lineup indefinitely while seeking treatment" for the cancer.

“As I’m sure you can imagine, this news came as a complete shock to me and to my family,” Felixson said, in a statement. “The past few days have been difficult, but they have been made easier by the presence of my parents, who flew over from Finland when we received my diagnosis. I am also thankful to have the full support of the entire Sea Dogs organization, my billets, teammates, coaches and staff.”

“This news has affected everyone in the organization,” said Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie added in a press release. “Oliver is our friend and teammate, and a member of our family. We are all with him as he meets this challenge.”

Felixson, an 18-year-old from Finland, has two goals and seven assists in his second season with Saint John.

Sea Dogs equipment manager David Kelly, who recently returned to his spot behind the team's bench after battling thyroid cancer, also spoke at the press conference.
Teams, fans, players and staff have all taken to social media to share their support for Felixson.

StFX wins AUS title

The StFX X-Men are Atlantic University Sport men's hockey champions once again.

The X-Men completed a sweep of the UNB Varsity on Wednesday night in Antigonish, erasing a 3-1 deficit to earn a 5-4 win. StFX won the best-of-three AUS final 2-0.

It's the second straight AUS title for the X-Men, who also beat UNB in last year's final. The Varsity Reds then went on to defeat the X-Men in the national championship game played in Halifax.

StFX features former Sea Dogs forwards Mark Tremaine and Marcus Cuomo. 

Both UNB and StFX had already earned spots in next week's University Cup. The Acadia Axemen will be the third AUS team heading to nationals following a sweep of the Saint Mary's Huskies in the consolation final.

Along with Cuomo and Tremaine, former Dogs Stephen Anderson, Mike Thomas, Oliver Cooper and Matt Murphy of the Varsity Reds will play for a national championship next week.

Two more former Sea Dogs - Justice Dundas and Steven Anthony - could be playing in the tournament if the Windsor Lancers are able to defeat the McGill Redmen in the OUA's bronze medal game on Friday.

Meanwhile, former Sea Dogs goaltender Sebastien Auger of UQTR has been named a second team OUA East All-Star.

Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Notes: Sea Dogs still committed to 2019 Memorial Cup bid

The Saint John Sea Dogs remain committed to a 2019 Memorial Cup bid.

“We will certainly try for it. It is one of our ownership and my team’s goals to host the Memorial Cup in Saint John. I don’t see that changing,” Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie told the website Huddle. “We intend to put in a bid."

Georgie added that hosting this year's QMJHL Entry Draft is a good start, allowing the team to see what they can pull off.

The Sea Dogs have been saying for years that they hope to host the Memorial Cup in either 2018 or 2019. 2018 is not an option with the CHL choosing the break the rotation and award the 100th Memorial Cup tournament to the Regina Pats.

Many wondered if the Sea Dogs were still committed to hosting in 2019 due to the team's current cycle. It's not impossible for Saint John to have a quality team in two years time, but it will not be a simple task.

The Sea Dogs are, clearly, set up to win this season. The team won't have time to tear it all down and build through the draft for 2019, so the Dogs will need to get a bit creative if they want to be amongst the nation's best that year. Not impossible, but it's no easy task.

The Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats have also expressed interest in hosting the 2019 tournament.

Some other news and notes...
  • The Sea Dogs will hold a press conference tomorrow to update the health of defenceman Oliver Felixson.
  • Charlottetown and Moncton will host the QMJHL legs of the 2017 Canada-Russia Series.
  • Jakub Zboril has shown a lot of improvement this season, The Q News explains.
  • If the Charlottetown Islanders defeat the Moncton Wildcats tonight (and they very likely will), the Isles will enter Friday's game at Harbour Station three points back of the Sea Dogs for first overall. Huge game.
  • Four Islanders fan buses are making the trip to Friday's game.
  • Saint John's final two home games of the regular season are this weekend: Friday against Charlottetown and Saturday against Halifax.
  • The Sea Dogs will hold their annual awards banquet on March 20.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 3-1

FINAL: Bathurst 1, Saint John 3
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs had the last laugh in their regular season series with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Spencer Smallman, Samuel Dove-McFalls and Simon Bourque scored in Saint John's 3-1 victory over the Titan on Tuesday at Harbour Station. It was the finale of a back-and-forth, exciting and sometimes odd season series between the two.

With Tuesday's victory, Saint John will finish the regular season with a 4-4-1-0 record against Bathurst.

Callum Booth had a strong night in the Sea Dogs net, making 24 saves in the win.

Vladimir Kuznetsov scored for the Titan. Anthony Dumont-Bouchard made 38 saves in the loss.

To the notes...
  • Saint John opened the scoring at 8:51 of the first. Noel was in the corner and made a great feed to an open Smallman in front.
  • Booth was terrific in net in the opening frame, making a few big stops.
  • The Titan tied it at 1-1 at 2:17 of the second. Christophe Boivin threw it towards the net and Kuznetsov finished it off, tying the match.
  • Saint John took a 2-1 lead at 12:46. The puck came hard off the back boards and went to Dove-McFalls along the goal line. The Saint John forward threw the puck on net where it was pushed in by a sliding Luc Deschenes.
  • On a power play at 19:08, Dove-McFalls was along the back boards and found a wide open Bourque in front of the net. The Dogs defenceman beat Dumont-Bouchard with a quick wrist shot, making it 3-1 Saint John.
  • Dove-McFalls scored late in the third period but the goal was called off due to a whistle or intent to whistle or something.
  • Nathan Noel now has points in eight of his past nine games.
  • Former Sea Dogs forward Dawson Theede had five hits in the first period.
  • Sea Dogs forward Matt Green returned from an injury.
  • According to HockeyFights.com, Bokondji Imama's second period fight against Deschenes was just his fourth tilt of the season. Two have been against Bathurst while the other two have been against Cape Breton.
  • Solid Tuesday night crowd of 4,360.
  • This was Bathurst's first regulation time loss in 10 games. Meanwhile, Saint John has not lost in regulation time in 11 straight games.

Game Day 63: vs Titan

Two of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's hottest teams battle tonight at Harbour Station as the Saint John Sea Dogs (43-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL) host the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (36-20-4-2, 4rd Maritimes, 6th QMJHL) at 7 p.m.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 5-1 win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Sunday. Nathan Noel scored twice while singles came from Mathieu Joseph, Julien Gauthier and Samuel Dove-McFalls. Callum Booth made 19 saves in the victory. The Titan are coming off a 2-1 win over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Sunday. Vladimir Kuznetsov and Jordan Maher scored. Anthony Dumont-Bouchard made 24 saves in the win.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 3-4-1-0 against the Titan this season while Bathurst is 5-3-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: Feb. 22 at Harbour Station where the Titan defeated the Sea Dogs 8-7. Nathan Noel had a hat trick for Saint John, Spencer Smallman scored twice and singles came from Bokondji Imama and Thomas Chabot. Christophe Boivin and Vladimir Kuznetsov each scored twice for Bathurst while singles came from Daniil Miromanov, Joakim Paradis, Felix Boivin and Rodrigo Abols.

Random stat: No other team has defeated Saint John more times this season than Bathurst (five). The Titan (five) and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (three) are the only teams in the QMJHL to have beaten the Sea Dogs more than twice this year.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Former Sea Dogs to play at University Cup

By this time next week, we will know for certain just how many Saint John Sea Dogs alumni will be playing at the 2017 University Cup in Fredericton.

Six of the eight teams have been confirmed for the university men's hockey national championship: UNB, StFX, York, Queen's, Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

The Varsity Reds, this year's hosts, feature four former Sea Dogs: Mike Thomas, Stephen Anderson, Matt Murphy and Oliver Cooper. The X-Men, who will battle UNB for the Atlantic University Sport championship, feature Marcus Cuomo and Mark Tremaine. 

The best-of-three AUS final begins tonight at the Aitken Centre.

There is one more AUS spot at nationals up for grabs, which will be determined in a best-of-three series that begins tonight between the Saint Mary's Huskies and Acadia Axemen. The Huskies feature former Dogs Adam Bateman and Noah Zilbert.
In Ontario, there will be no Sea Dogs alumni playing in next Saturday's winner-take-all Queen's Cup championship after the York Lions defeated the Windsor Lancers in the OUA Western Conference final on Saturday. York will now face Queen's for the OUA title next Saturday.

The Lancers, who feature Justice Dundas and Steven Anthony, still have a shot at nationals, though. They'll travel to Montreal on Friday to face the McGill Redmen in the OUA bronze medal game - which will also determine the final OUA University Cup berth.

In Canada West action, the Alberta Golden Bears defeated Saskatchewan Huskies for the conference championship. Both have earned spots at nationals.

The University Cup will be played March 16-19 at UNB. Saturday' semifinals and Sunday's final will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360. The bronze medal game will be played at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday (not a typo). 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 5-1

FINAL: Cape Breton 1, Saint John 5
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs avenged a tough overtime loss in Sydney last weekend by skating to a 5-1 win over the visiting Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Sunday at Harbour Station

Nathan Noel led the way with two goals and one assist. Mathieu Joseph, Julien Gauthier and Samuel Dove-McFalls added singles for the Sea Dogs. Callum Booth had 19 saves to earn the win.

Mathias Laferriere replied for Cape Breton. Kyle Jessiman stopped 31 shots in the loss.

NOTES
  • The Sea Dogs opened the scoring - while on a power play at 3:11 - when Noel unloaded a heavy slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle that beat Jessiman over his glove.
  • The Sea Dogs went up 2-0 - on another power play at 14:17 - when Joseph corralled a rebound near the goal line and snapped the puck to the top shelf.
  • Laferriere got Cape Breton on the board - while on a power play at 4:38 of the second - when he one-timed a rebound past Booth from the left face-off circle.
  • The Sea Dogs responded at 6:08 as Gauthier took a drop pass from Noel in the high slot and unloaded a rocket off the post and in.
  • The Sea Dogs' penalty kill came up large midway through the third as they killed off a major penalty - which also included a full two minutes of skating three against five.
  • Noel put Saint John up by three on a power play at 17:31 as he unleashed a laser beam over Jessiman's shoulder from the left face-off dot.
  • Dove-McFalls capped the scoring just over twenty seconds later with a shot through Jessiman's legs.
  • Noel's 85th career goal moved him past Ryan Sparling and Zach Phillips and into sixth place on Saint John's all-time scoring list. Also, Noel now has 205 points which moved him past current Ottawa Senator Chris DiDomenico for seventh in Sea Dogs history.
  • Captain Spencer Smallman played in his 289th game to pass Mike Thomas for the most games played in Sea Dogs history.
  • Prior to the national anthem, the Sea Dogs and their fans acknowledged former captain Olivier Leblanc for playing in his final regular season game at Harbour Station in his impressive five-year QMJHL career.

Game Day 62: vs Screaming Eagles

The Saint John Sea Dogs (42-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL) host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (34-24-2-2, 4th Maritimes, 8th QMJHL) today at 3 p.m. at Harbour Station.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a big 9-3 win over the Rimouski Oceanic on Friday at Harbour Station. Kyle Ward scored twice while singles came from Thomas Chabot, Joe Veleno, Bokondji Imama, Mathieu Joseph, Julien Gauthier, Spencer Smallman and Matthew Highmore. Callum Booth made 19 saves in the win. The Screaming Eagles are coming off a 4-1 home win over the Halifax Mooseheads on Friday. Peyton Hoyt, Massimo Carozza, Leon Gawanke and Jordan Ty Fournier scored for Cape Breton. Kyle Jessiman made 24 saves in the win.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 5-2-1-0 against the Screaming Eagles this season while Cape Breton is 3-5-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: Feb. 24 at Centre 200 where the Sea Dogs blew a 2-0 third period lead and lost 3-2 in overtime to the Screaming Eagles. Matt Green and Cole Reginato scored Saint John's only goals. Ross MacDougall, Leon Gawanke and Giovanni Fiore scored for Cape Breton. Callum Booth made 19 saves in the loss. Kyle Jessiman made 25 stops in the win.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Screaming Eagles: Defenceman Olivier Leblanc.

Random stat: Cape Breton's Giovanni Fiore continues to lead the league in goals with 47.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 9-3

FINAL: Rimouski 3, Saint John 9
Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs played arguably their most complete game in a few weeks and earned a convincing 9-3 win over the visiting Rimouski Oceanic at Harbour Station Friday evening.

It was a special night for Matthew Highmore to cap a special week, as the Sea Dogs veteran established a new franchise record for all-time assists (previously held by NHL star Jonathan Huberdeau). This after having just celebrated his 21st birthday and signed a NHL entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Sea Dogs were led offensively by Mathieu Joseph with one goal and four assists; Highmore with one goal and three assists; as well as Kyle Ward's two goal performance. Other goal scorers for Saint John were Thomas Chabot (1G, 1A), Spencer Smallman (1G, 1A), Joe Veleno, Julien Gauthier and Bokondji Imama. Callum Booth turned in a 19-save performance.

Tyler Boland - the QMJHL's leading point getter - Charle-Edouard D'Astous and Denis Mikhnin replied for Rimouski. Charles-Olivier Levesque turned aside 32 shots in defeat.

NOTES
  • Chabot found the top corner - at 12:25 of the first - from in close after Joseph pulled off a one-man weave through the Oceanic to put Saint John up 1-0. 
  • Veleno finished off a two-on-one with Samuel Dove-McFalls - at 13:30 of the first - by pushing the puck past Levesque while sliding into the crease and after having been hauled down. The goal was reviewed and stood and the Dogs were up 2-0.
  • Highmore tied the assist record at 14:55 of the first as his dish to Imama turned into a laser beam to the top corner over Levesque's glove to put the hosts up 3-0.
  • Highmore broke the assist record at 3:04 of the second. Joseph accepted a drop pass from Highmore in the high slot and went bar down to stake Saint John to a 4-0 lead.
  • 20 seconds after Joseph's goal, Booth got tangled up in a scramble while the puck went to D'Astous in the slot and the Oceanic defenceman snapped the puck into the goal - much to the chagrin of the Sea Dogs 'keeper.
  • After sustained pressure during a five-on-three power play, Gauthier took a cross ice pass from Joseph and made no mistake as he snapped the puck past Levesque on the short side at 7:51 of the second.
  • The Oceanic responded at 10:20 - shortly after Jakub Zboril was pulled down in the neutral zone - when Boland's attempted pass deflected off Alexander Bernier and past Booth. 
  • Just over 30 seconds later, Smallman responded from in close after a saucer pass from the corner by Nathan Noel to put the Sea Dogs back in front, 6-2.
  • The visitors came back once again at 17:12 with a lovely goal by Mikhnin, as the import deftly deflected a cross ice pass over Booth's glove to make the score 6-3.
  • The Sea Dogs answered back just over 30 seconds later - again - when Highmore setup in Gretzky's old office behind the goal and fed Ward in front. The rugged winger snapped the disk through the legs of the Oceanic goaltender to put Saint John up 7-3 after two periods.
  • Ward collected his second goal of the night at 5:11 of the third when his seeing eye shot from the left face-off circle somehow found its way past Levesque.
  • Highmore capped the night - on a power play at 12:12 of the final frame - when he tapped in a sweet cross ice pass from Joseph to make the final score 9-3.
  • Captain Spencer Smallman also reached a Sea Dog milestone by tying former captain Mike Thomas with the most games played in Sea Dogs history.
  • It was old home week for a couple of players. Former Oceanic captain Simon Bourque was excellent for Saint John - and also seemed to enjoy chatting with his old mates throughout the night. Former Sea Dogs pest Nicolas Blachman tried to stir things up a few times but his old buddies did not respond beyond what appeared to be friendly banter. Another ex-Sea Dog, Vincent Martineau - traded to Rimouski in the Bourque deal - did not dress for the Oceanic.
  • The Sea Dog Student of the Month award for February was presented to Matthew Highmore prior to the game. Also, Callum Booth earned the nod as the Sea Dogs Irving Oil Player of the Month.
  • After a series of recent suspensions, the Sea Dogs showed much more discipline and restraint for the second consecutive game, instead focusing on hard work and impressive puck movement. All positive signs as the team enters the regular season stretch run and gears up for the playoffs.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Notes: Every game will matter

It's safe to say every game will matter for the Saint John Sea Dogs down the stretch.

The Sea Dogs enter play tonight with the best record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 88 points. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies sit second with 83 points while the Shawinigan Cataractes have 82.

All three teams have played 60 games.

With a five-point lead over the Huskies, the Sea Dogs have some breathing room. It's the Maritimes Division that could cause some problems for Saint John.

The Charlottetown Islanders technically sit fourth overall in the league standings because division leaders are seeded one-to-three. But the Isles have the second best record in the league with 85 points. They've also played 60 games.
The Sea Dogs' three-point lead with eight games left is anything but safe. The two remaining meetings between Saint John and Charlottetown- March 10 at Harbour Station and March 17 at Eastlink Centre - could very well determine the QMJHL's regular season champion.

But, a lot could change over the next couple weeks. A regular season title - or even a division title - isn't a sure thing for the Sea Dogs, which makes every remaining game that much more important (and hopefully entertaining).

Some notes...
  • Of Saint John's remaining games, four are against teams below .500 (Rimouski, Moncton and Halifax twice). The Sea Dogs will also play five of their remaining regular season games on home ice.
  • Charlottetown, meanwhile, will play three teams that are below .500 (Halifax twice and Moncton). Five of their remaining games are at home. The Isles have a few challenging games left, including a home game against Blainville-Boisbriand on Saturday and two games against the red-hot Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
  • According to the league website, "since Jan. 1, both clubs have been tied: Saint John and Charlottetown have collected 38 points in 24 games, making them the most point getting team in that period."
  • The Titan, winners of eight straight, will finish above .500 for the first time since 2011-12 and will have their highest point total since 2010-11. The team hasn't made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2008, a streak that should be broken this year.
  • Rimouski, Saint John's opponent tonight, is in a battle at the bottom of the standings with Drummondville, Baie-Comeau and Sherbrooke for the final few playoff spots.
  • As mentioned in today's pre-game, a couple franchise records could be broken this weekend. Matthew Highmore has 152 career assists with the Sea Dogs. Jonathan Huberdeau holds the franchise record with 153. Spencer Smallman has played in 287 games with Saint John. Mike Thomas has the franchise record of 288.

Game Day 61: vs Oceanic

The Saint John Sea Dogs (41-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL) play a non-Maritimes Division team for the final time this regular season, hosting the Rimouski Oceanic (24-32-5-0, 5th East, 14th QMJHL) tonight at Harbour Station.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 4-2 win over the Halifax Mooseheads on Wednesday at Harbour Station. Matthew Highmore, Julien Gauthier, Spencer Smallman and Bokondji Imama all scored for Saint John. Alex D'Orio made 27 saves in the win. The Oceanic are coming off a 3-0 loss in Charlottetown last night. Jimmy Lemay made 46 saves in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 1-0-0-0 against the Oceanic this season while Rimouski is 0-1-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: Nov. 29 in Rimouski where the Sea Dogs edged the Oceanic 5-1. Bokondji Imama scored a pair of goals while Mathieu Joseph, Thomas Chabot and Oliver Felixson added singles. Hunter Moreau scored Rimouski's lone goal. Alex D'Orio made 28 saves in the win. Alexandre Lagace made 24 stops in the loss.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Oceanic: Forward Nico Blachman and defenceman Vincent Martineau.

Random stat: Matthew Highmore is one assist away from tying Jonathan Huberdeau's franchise assist record. Spencer Smallman can tie Mike Thomas' franchise record for games played with an appearance tonight.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Highmore signs with Blackhawks

Matthew Highmore has signed an three-year entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the club announced today.

It's the first NHL contract for Highmore, who recently turned 21. He has attended rookie camps with the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers in the past.

Highmore is currently seventh in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring with 82 points in 58 games. He has already surpassed his career high in both points and goals (32). He currently leads the Sea Dogs in assists with 50.
In his fifth season with Saint John, Highmore has recorded 88 goals and 240 points in 283 career QMJHL games. He's added nine goals and 21 points in 26 playoff games.

Highmore joins Nathan Noel as Blackhawks prospects on the Sea Dogs. Meanwhile, former Dog Tomas Jurco was recently traded to Chicago from the Detroit Red Wings.

Former Sea Dogs scout Peter Nevin is currently a part of the Blackhawks organization.

The Halifax native will remain with the Sea Dogs for the rest of the season before turning professional in 2017-18.

RECAP: Sea Dogs win 4-2

FINAL: Halifax 2, Saint John 4
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs made it back-to-back wins over the Halifax Mooseheads on Wednesday night at Harbour Station.

In a make-up game for the postponed Dec. 16 match, the Sea Dogs defeated the Mooseheads 4-2. The two teams also met on Sunday in Saint John with the Sea Dogs winning that one, 5-3.

It was far from an easy win for the Sea Dogs. After a strong first period, the team struggled in the second, getting outshot 13-3 by Halifax. After the Moose got off to a good start in the third, the Dogs started to turn things around and got a key insurance goal from Bokondji Imama.

Along with Imama, Matthew Highmore, Julien Gauthier and Spencer Smallman scored in Saint John's Wednesday win. Alex D'Orio made 27 saves in the victory.

Jared McIsaac and Keigan Goetz scored for Halifax. Alexis Gravel made 22 saves in the loss.

To the notes...
  • Highmore opened the scoring on a power play at 11:29 of the first period. Mathieu Joseph fed Julien Gauthier in the slot area but, rather than firing the puck on net, Gauthier fed Highmore down low and beat Gravel with a one-timer to give the Dogs a 1-0 lead.
  • Saint John went to another power play shortly after Highmore's goal. At 12:49, Highmore skated down low and delivered a great backhand pass to an open Gauthier in front. Gauthier fired a quick shot past Gravel, giving Saint John a 2-0 lead.
  • Joseph had a great chance in the final seconds of the period but was stopped on a breakaway by Gravel.
  • The Mooseheads got on the board at 2:31 of the second period. On a power play, McIsaac beat D'Orio five hole with a one-time shot from the circle.
  • Saint John quickly got their two-goal lead back at 4:08. Joe Veleno was on the goal line and found Smallman in the slot. The Sea Dogs captain fire a wrist shot that snuck through Gravel.
  • Goetz got Halifax back within one at 11:48. Arnaud Durandeau carried the puck into the zone and found Goetz in the slot, who ripped a shot past D'Orio to make it 3-2.
  • After outshooting Halifax 17-8 in the first period, shots were 13-3 in favour of the Moose in the second.
  • After surviving some Mooseheads pressure early in the third, Imama scored at 8:59 to give Saint John a 4-2 lead. The puck was in slot area and made its way to the faceoff circle where Imama fired it past an outstretched Gravel.
  • Saint John nearly hit the empty Halifax net in the dying seconds but Frederic Aube made a great diving play to keep the puck out.
  • Gauthier returned to the Saint John lineup after missing the past five matches due to injury.
  • Highmore is now one assist away from tying Jonathan Huberdeau's franchise assist record.
  • Smallman is one game away from tying Mike Thomas' franchise games played record.
  • Jake Coughler, who was the victim of Nathan Noel's hit to the head on Sunday, did not play. He is listed as day-to-day.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Game Day 60: vs Mooseheads

In a make-up game for the Dec. 16 postponed match, the Saint John Sea Dogs (40-13-5-1, 1st Maritimes, 1st QMJHL) host the Halifax Mooseheads (26-29-2-3, 5th Maritimes, 12th QMJHL) tonight at 7 p.m.

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

Last games: The Sea Dogs and Mooseheads met on Sunday afternoon at Harbour Station with Saint John winning 5-3. Cole Reginato, Nathan Noel, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Matthew Highmore and Bokondji Imama scored for Saint John. Halifax goals came from Maxime Fortier, Keigan Goetz and Jake Coughler. Callum Booth made 18 saves in the win. Alexis Gravel made 18 stops in the loss.

2016-17 head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 3-2-0-0 against the Mooseheads this season while Halifax is 2-3-0-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: See above.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Mooseheads: Goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon.

Random stat: Maxime Fortier leads the league in shorthanded goals with six. Mathieu Joseph is second with five.

Nathan Noel suspended

Nathan Noel is the latest Saint John Sea Dog to be suspended.

Noel has been suspended one-game by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for a hit to the head on Jake Coughler during Sunday's 5-3 Sea Dogs win over the Halifax Mooseheads. Noel was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit.

Noel, who had a goal and an assist before being ejected early in the third period, has 22 goals and 43 points in 45 games with Saint John this season.

This is the third suspension of the season for Noel who has previously been temporarily banned for butt-ending and "during a fight, challenging the bench and continuing to hit a defenceless opponent."

There will be three Sea Dogs suspended for Wednesday's home game against the Mooseheads: Noel, Thomas Chabot and Bailey Webster. All three will be eligible to return to action on Friday when Saint John takes on the Rimouski Oceanic at Harbour Station.

Both Chabot and Webster were suspended two games for hit the heads during Saint John's Feb. 24 game against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The amount of suspensions the Sea Dogs have received lately is almost comical. Since Jan. 29, Mathieu Joseph (one-game - clipping), Chabot, (two-games - slew-footing and two-games - hit to the head), Spencer Smallman (one-game - staged fight), Noel (one-game - butt-ending and one-game - hit to the head), Cole Reginato (one-game - staged fight) and Bailey Webster (two-games - hit to the head) have all been handed suspensions by the league. The team was also fined $500 for a warm-up incident involving Bokondji Imama in Victoriaville.