Starting off their season 1-3 could not have been what owner Farrel Miller and coach/general manager Pascal Vincent had in mind for their new team. You always want to start a new franchise off quickly with a few wins so the city catches the fever. This is especially true when it comes to the very finicky city of Montreal. On this their third home game they had to be thinking about turning things around and providing a win for their home crowd.
Despite their losing record there was a reason to feel confident going into this game. Actually, there were four reasons as four of the Junior de Montreal leaders were returning to the team after having participated in NHL training camps with the teams that drafted them. The team was basically complete except for Angelo Esposito who was still with the Atlanta Thrashers. Defenseman and assistant captain T.J Brennan, goaltender Jake Allen, centre Luke Adam, and winger Matt Fillier all rejoined the team this week and were looking to contribute. Well, by the end of the game these four had all played big roles in the Junior de Montreal's 6-3 victory.
The intimate confines of the Verdun Auditorium is the perfect place to watch a hockey game. Because the arena is small there really are no bad seats and you are always close to the play no matter where you sit. Verdun is kind of like a mini Bell Centre with the tunes pumping and the images projected on the ice before the game. I had not been to the Verdun Auditorium in many years and was happy to see that the wooden benches had not been replaced. They made me feel nostalgic for a purer time in hockey.
As previously stated, this was goaltender Jake Allen's first game back after participating in the St. Louis Blues training camp. Right off the bat Allen was forced to prove that his head was in the game and he had to come up with some excellent early saves to keep his team in the game. He had come to play and we would have to see if his teammates could do the same.
The beginning of the game belonged to the Sea Dogs. They were bigger and more aggressive than the slow starting Juniors. All the pressure they exerted and the time they spent in the Montreal defensive area almost paid off with Sea Dogs defenseman David Stich hitting the post on a seeing eye shot from the point. Saint John was dominating and by the 10 minute mark they were outshooting the Junior by 12-0.
Unfortunately for the Sea Dogs whatever momentum they had built up was ended when they started taking penalties. The Junior de Montreal started getting shots and chances to score due to a series of powerplays. Big centre Luke Adam (#19) had several close in scoring chances. This gave them the confidence they needed to turn the game completely around. Adam finally opened the scoring on a powerplay goal late in the 1st period and the Juniors were off to the races.
The Sea Dogs managed to knot up the game at 1-1 with their own powerplay goal scored early in the 2nd period by Ryan Sparling on a wicked wrist shot over Allen's left shoulder from a severe angle. This was as close as the Sea Dogs would get as the Juniors scored the next five goals to pull away. Luke Adam scored again as well as Matt Fillier, Guillaume Asselin, Matthew Brenton, and Nick Layton. Montreal's speed and hustle was the difference in the game and by the 3rd period the Sea Dogs were so completely beaten that they seemed to just want to get the game over with rather than trying to mount a comeback.
As it said on one of the images projected on the ice: It's a new start and the future looks a little brighter for the Montreal team after this game. The next Junior de Montreal game is this Sunday versus Gatineau at 4:30 at the Verdun Auditorium and the team will be looking to bring their record up to .500 with a victory.
-On Ice Officials: Referee: Francois Fortier
Linesmen: Dominic Tessier and Yanick Pothier
-Goals: 1st Period:
16:38 – Montreal: (pp) Luke Adam assisted by Matt Fillier and T. J Brennan
3:37 – Saint John: (pp) Ryan Sparling assisted by Simon Depres
10:44 – Montreal: Luke Adam assisted by Matt Fillier
11:59 – Montreal: Matt Fillier assisted by Luke Adam and Guillaume Asselin
16:08 – Montreal: (pp) Guillaume Asselin assisted by Alex Wall
19:06 – Montreal: (sh) Matthew Brenton assisted by Nick Layton
4:11 – Montreal: Nick Layton assisted by Samuel Grenache
7:07 – Saint John: (pp) Payton Liske assisted by Ryan Sparling and Pascal Amyot
18:42 – Saint John: Francois Gauthier assisted by Nathan Beaulieu
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 32
Saint John: 35
-Three Stars: 1) Luke Adam
2) Matt Fillier
3) Jake Allen