What do you call a team like Val D'Or, one that has been mired at or near the bottom of the league standings all season? Lowly, hapless and cellar dweller all spring to mind. On this day, however, "cannon fodder" might be the most apt description.
Coming off an emotional (read: fight filled) 2-1 overtime loss to Rouyn-Noranda, the Montreal Juniors absolutely destroyed the Foreurs 12-1 at the Verdun Auditorium on Sunday afternoon. The win is all the more impressive because while Val D'Or has had a difficult season, they have played well against the Juniors and had won the last two meetings between the teams, outscoring Montreal 8-2 in those two games.
In a game that saw 15 Juniors get their names on the scoresheet, the highlight was without question Louis-Marc Aubry's 4 goal performance. To put his accomplishment in perspective, consider this: Aubry went into the game having scored 6 goals in 64 games. He proceeded to score 4 goals in 60 minutes. He also picked up an assist.
Aubry opened the scoring with a power play goal at 2:05 of the first period. Pier-Antoine Dion notched his 15th of the season at 11:41 to give the Juniors a 2-0 lead, but Val D'Or was still in the game.
The turning point would come with 1:03 left in the period. With the Juniors once again on the power play, Guillaume Asselin made a perfect pass to Aubry who potted his second of the game at 18:57. A little over a minute later, Nick Layton beat Foreurs goalie Yan Bouchard to score his team-leading 29th of the season. The officials had to go to video review to confirm that there was still time left on the clock when the puck crossed the goal line. The decision on the ice stood and the Juniors were off to the races.
Val D'Or changed goaltenders to start the second, but Jean-Sébastien Boucher would fare no better than his predecessor. It would be hard to fault the Val D'Or goalies in this game, however. The Foreurs simply could not keep up with Montreal and always seemed to be second to the puck or a step behind the player they were supposed to be marking.
Eventually, their inability to keep up and their frustration at being outplayed began to translate into penalties. They took 6 in the second period alone and while the Juniors failed to capitalize on their chances, being shorthanded makes it that much more difficult to generate offense and virtually impossible to get any kind of rhythm going. That being said, Matthew Lachaine scored Val D'Or's only goal of the game at 17:19 of the second while killing a penalty. Seeing as it made the score 9-1, however, it is safe to say the damage had already been done.
While the score was gaudy, the Juniors did not play a perfect game. Their zone clearing left something to be desired and the fact that the power play went 0 for 6 in the second might be some cause for concern. But to be frank, Layton ended the game at 19:59 of the first and the final two periods were a formality. And the positives outweighed the negatives.
The team scored a franchise record 12 goals. The speedy Aubry-Asselin-Matthew Brenton line was dangerous every time it hit the ice. Jean-François Bérubé played another solid game in relief of Jake Allen. The latter was healthy enough to dress for the game and should be ready to go in time for the team's play off opener on Friday, but if he's not Bérubé has shown he is more than equal to the task. Samuel Grenache scored his 6th of the season in only his second game back from injury and while no Matt Fillier-lead team could ever be called soft, Grenache's willingness to go with anyone will undoubtedly relieve some of the pressure on the captain to defend his team's honour. Grenache's ability to score goals, fight and annoy the bejeebers out of opponents is just what the doctor ordered for the playoffs.
-Ça sent la coupe! The Juniors open their best-of-seven first round playoff series against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on Friday, March 20th at the Verdun Auditorium. Game time is 7:30pm.
-Val D'Or's uniforms look good on the ice but the gold shoulder insert in combination with the team's name bring to mind Neil Young's "Miner for a Heart of Gold". Either that or a hostess apron form the 1970's. One wonders if that has anything to do with the Foreurs' performance this season. After all, it's hard to be tough when you're wearing gold lamé.
-Foreurs' rookie left winger Cedric Henley is a big boy. The 16 year old is already 6"4. One can only imagine what the grocery bill is like at his house.
-The Golden Ice Bag Award goes to Jean-François Bérubé. At 10:53 of the second, Montreal defender Alex Wall tried to field a puck high in the air a few feet in front of the Juniors' net. Sensing an opportunity, several Val D'Or players hurtled towards him and the lot of them wound up in a pile in the crease. When all was said and done, Bérubé was on his back in the net, his head and neck in a decidedly awkward position. After receiving some attention from the trainer, he rose to his feet looking more than a little dazed. He stayed in the game and made a beautiful glove save less than a minute later.
-Speaking of Bérubé's with talent: Thirteen year-old Melissa Bérubé delivered a fine version of the national anthem.
-Oh to be a fly on the wall: Grenache and Val D'Or's Keven Charland got involved mid-way through the third. They both wound up in the penalty box and jawed at each other through the break to clean the ice and the first 30 seconds of the penalty. Perhaps sensing he was beaten, Charland quieted down, but Grenache kept yapping for a full minute. Can't help but wonder what they were talking about. One suspects they weren't exchanging recipes.
-Freudian Slip? Public address announcer Pierre Hunter starts every period by informing the crowd who the sponsor is. The script is, "And the second period is brought to you by…". Prior to the start of the third period, he said, "And the final period of the game is brought to you by…". One can only assume he did not believe the Foreurs would be able to score 8 goals and send the contest to overtime. Oh ye of little faith.
1) Louis-Marc Aubry, MOntreal
2) Dmitry Kostromintin, Montreal
3) Jérémy Gouchie, Montreal
Shots on Goal:
On Ice Officials:
Referee: Dominick Bédard, Jonathan McIsaac
Linesmen: Nicolas Leduc, Shane Black
MTL – Louis-Marc Aubry (Guillaume Asselin, T.J. Brennan) (pp) 02:05
MTL – Pier-Antoine Dion (Chris Thorne, Dmitri Kostromitin) 11:41
MTL – Louis-Marc Aubry (Dmitri Kostromitin, Guillaume Asselin) (pp) 18:57
MTL – Nick Layton (Philippe Fontaine, Alex Wall) (pp) 19:59
MTL – Matt Fillier (Philippe Fontaine, Darick Ste-Marie) 04:33
MTL – Jérémy Gouchie (Darick Ste-Marie, Alex Wall) 06:58
MTL – Matthew Brenton (Maurice Rock, Louis-Marc Aubry) 08:11
MTL – Louis-Marc Aubry (T.J. Brennan, Matthew Brenton) 14:14
MTL – Samuel Grenache (Jérémy Gouchie, Pier-Antoine Dion) 16:23
VDO – Matthew Lachaine (no assist) (sh) 17:19
MTL – Dmitri Kostromitin (Pier-Antoine Dion, T.J. Brennan) (pp) 01:57
MTL – Louis-Marc Aubry (Guillaume Asselin, Matthew Brenton) 03:39
MTL – Philippe Fontaine (Matt Fillier, Dmitri Kostromitin) (pp) 18:17