May 4, 2012
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – The Saint John Sea Dogs got off to a roaring start but needed double overtime to finish off the Rimouski Oceanic in Game 1 of the President’s Cup final.
Saint John scored twice in the first 72 seconds then needed more than 89 minutes before Zack Phillips shovelled in a rebound at 10:18 of double overtime to the delight of a sellout crowd of 6,238 at Harbour Station. Nathan Beaulieu and Tomas Jurco scored 27 seconds apart on the opening two shifts and Mathieu Corbeil made 37 saves for the win. Phillips and Jurco each added assists as the Dogs moved one step closer to repeating as Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions.
Alex Belzile scored a power-play goal and set up Peter Trainor’s man-advantage marker in the second period to even things up and force overtime. Jacob Chouinard made 36 saves in a losing cause.
The Sea Dogs scored on their first shot of the game just 45 seconds in. Phillips sent a pass from the right wing to Beaulieu in the slot, his shot beat Chouinard and the already deafening crowd got even louder. Charlie Coyle had the other assist on the fourth of the playoffs for Beaulieu, who was wearing the captain’s ‘C’ in place of the suspended Jonathan Huberdeau.
As that goal was being announced Jurco, threw a low shot on net from the right-wing faceoff circle that got past Chouinard to make it 2-0. Stanislav Galiev and Danick Gauthier picked up assists on Jurco’s ninth, which came at 1:12.
Rimouski had quality chances the other way, but Corbeil was solid in the Sea Dogs goal. The overage netminder made a big right pad save on Jakub Culek on the first Rimouski shot of the game, and deliverd another pad save on J-F Plante about five minutes in.
Saint John had a chance to go up 3-0 with just under six minutes to go in the first, but Coyle redirected a cross-crease pass from Phillips off the post.
In the second period Rimouski tied it up with a pair of power-play goals. Trainor connected on a one-timer down low at 5:52 to make it 2-1. Belzile tied it up at 13:20, barging to the net and knocking in a rebound.
The Sea Dogs had their first and only power play chance late in the third period but were unable to convert. Saint John had another flurry with about four minutes to go, but Gauthier misfired a pass on one opportunity and Chouinard came up with a left pad save on Galiev later in the shift.
Both goaltenders were sharp in the first overtime, with Corbeil delivering 13 saves to seven by Chouinard, who could be seen stretching his right leg gingerly during stoppages.
Corbeil flashed the glove on Culek in the second minute of the extra frame, while Chouinard covered up Galiev’s sharp-angle shot off the right wing midway through.
Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant called his timeout at the 12:27 mark of the overtime, but it was Rimouski that had the next dangerous chance when Leduc threw a bouncer from the left point on net with Culek parked in front. Corbeil pounced on the puck to defuse the situation.
Maxime Villemaire had an outstanding opportunity to salt away the victory with less than three minutes to go in the first overtime. Villemaire raced to a loose puck in the Rimouski zone, flipped it to himself around a defender but couldn’t find the finish in front.
Both teams had chances once again in the second OT. Less than two minutes in Petr Straka missed the net twice, first putting a Francis Beauvillier rebound wide, then doing the same on a cross-ice saucer pass from Plante.
Coyle nearly notched his second overtime winner of the playoffs when Phillips fed him in the slot just under five minutes into the fifth and final frame. Coyle spun and whipped a low shot on Chouinard but the goaltender made the save.
On the ensuing shift Corbeil denied Straka with another glove save. Midway through the period Culek missed on another 2-on-1, Alexandre Mallet fanned on a golden opportunity in front, and Corbeil stopped Trainor on the doorstep.
With the crowd on the edge of their seats, Phillips finally found the winning marker at 10:18, with the assists going to Jurco and Charles Roussel.
Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Harbour Station. Limited standing-room tickets are available at the box office and can also be obtained by calling 506-657-1234 or online at www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.