Playing minus five regulars, the Montreal Juniors put away the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 4-2 in front of 3 251 at the Verdun Auditorium on Tuesday night.
Coming off a penalty-filled 8-2 drubbing at the hands of their arch nemesis, the Quebec Remparts, Chicoutimi displayed no small amount of residual testiness. Fortunately for them, while they were busy poking, pushing and slashing behind the play and after whistles while also finding the time to whine to the referees about calls and non-calls, their goalie, François Levesque, was focused on hockey. He had to be as the Juniors threw 52 shots at the net, 21 in the first period alone. The home team was unlucky to head into the first intermission with only a 1-0 lead.
The visitors settled down in the second and took a 2-1 lead on goals by Mathieu Tousignant and Jacob Lagacé, much to the delight of the many Sags fans in the crowd.
Knowing the next goal would be huge, the Juniors started the third with a lot of jump. T.J. Brennan and Alex Wall launched a veritable artillery attack from the points and while their accuracy left something to be desired they kept the Sags pinned in their end. The wear and tear started to show at 4:25 when Pier-Antoine Dion potted his 14th of season to tie the game up at 2.
The key to the Juniors' win, however, was speed. When they turned on the afterburners, the Sags, with the possible exception of the Nicolas Deschamps-Tousignant-Lagacé line, simply could not keep up. Nowhere was this more evident than on the eventual game winner. Left winger Matthew Brenton crossed the blue line with speed and drove hard to the corner, drawing a penalty. The Juniors managed to maintain control of the puck and, with Jake Allen at the bench and an extra attacker on, Brenton cut to the front of the net and reaped the benefits of his hard work.
The Saguenéens responded by making pests of themselves much as they had in the first. Even the generally cool Dmitry Kostromitin looked annoyed when he was held up at the blue line by a little clutch and grab. Like his team-mates, however, he simply skated away, perhaps realizing that a team playing with three call ups (Christopher Smith, Anthony Courcelles and Félix-Antoine Poulin) and a short bench simply could not afford to get into penalty trouble.
The Juniors put the icing on the cake at 19:38 of the third. With Chicoutimi's Michaël Nolet in the box for hooking, Pat O'Keefe made a nifty little move to set up Louis-Marc Aubry for his 4th of the year.
-The Juniors hit the road for three games, starting Friday in Chicoutimi. They'll close out the regular season with a two game homestand: they host the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies Friday, March 13th at 7:30 pm and the Val D'Or Foreurs on Sunday, March 15th at 4:30pm.
-Let the Games Begin! Playoff tickets are now available. Contact the Juniors at 514-670-2100 for information.
-Guess who came to dinner? There was a very vocal contingent of Chicoutimi fans in attendance. Chants of "Go Sags Go" echoed through the arena and loud cheers erupted when the Saguenéens scored.
-Golden Ice bag Award: In spite of suffering an "upper body injury" against Lewiston on Sunday Juniors' captain Matt Fillier dressed for Tuesday's game. The only action he saw was the ceremonial face-off, but he spent the game on the bench supporting his squad. Just before the crucial third period, he could be seen in the tunnel high-fiving his team-mates as they headed for the bench.
-Listen to the Announcements, People! In spite of stern and repeated warnings, why do some spectators insist on throwing things on the ice? Last night, a face-off had to be delayed when someone tossed a Canadian Forces mini hockey stick onto the ice. After the game, a mini football found its way onto the playing surface. If people aren't careful, there'll be no more free toys. It's always unfortunate when the many suffer for the actions of a few, especially when the many are often enthusiastic, law-abiding children who are thrilled to leave the rink clutching whatever souvenir has been distributed by the team or its sponsor.
-The Clothes Make the Team? Say what you will about the play of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, they are sartorially splendid. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, women's hockey powerhouse Dawson College Blues adopted a similar style when they changed their uniforms a few years back. Now, if only the Sags could play with the power, speed and skill of the recently crowned Junior Women's Hockey League Challenge Cup champions. (The Blues beat Detroit's Little Caesars in the final.)
1) Matthew Brenton, Montreal
2) François Levesque, Chicoutimi
3) T.J. Brennan, Montreal
Shots on Goal:
On Ice Officials:
Referees: Marc Muylaert, Pascal St. Jacques
Linesmen: David Taveroff, Stéfan Capano
17:40 Montreal Guillaume Asselin assisted by Pat O'Keefe and Darick Ste-Marie
5:01 Chicoutimi Mathieu Tousignant assisted by Jacob Lagacé and Nicolas Deschamps
9:36 Chicoutimi Jacob Lagacé assisted by Mathieu Tousignant and Nicolas Deschamps
4:25 Montreal Pier-Antoine Dion assisted by Nick Layton and Dmitri Kostromitin
8:54 Montreal Matthew Brenton assisted by David Foucher and Pat O'Keefe
19:38 Montreal Louis-Marc Aubry assisted by Pat O'Keefe (power play goal)