It was a good weekend to be a member of the Montreal Juniors. After notching their first home ice win of the season on Friday night, the team kept the feel good train rolling with a 5-0 thumping of the visiting Gatineau Olympiques on Sunday afternoon.
As was the case on Friday night against the Saint-John Sea Dogs, the Juniors got off to a slow start. Hull, playing its third game in three days, came ready to play, out shooting the home team 10-2 through the first twelve minutes of the first period. Montreal goaltender Jake Allen kept his team in the game with solid positional play and a quick glove hand.
Gatineau failed to convert on two early power play chances and things started to come unravelled around the thirteen minute mark. With Hubert Labrie already in the box, team mate Jean-Philip Chabot was called for tripping, resulting in a 37 second 5-on-3 for Montreal. Captain Matt Fillier scored 21seconds in and the Juniors never looked back.
Less than five minutes after Fillier opened the scoring, defender Alex Wall snuck deep into the Hull zone and flipped a little backhander at the net beating goaltender Maxime Clermont to the surprise and delight of the 2,880 fans at the Verdun Auditorium.
If Wall's goal discouraged the Olympiques, Taylor MacDougall's goal at 19:30 of the first was the back breaker. Slipping behind the Hull defense, he found himself all alone in front of Clermont and beat the goalie cleanly to the glove side. That was all she wrote for Clermont who was replaced by Marc Antoine Gélinas at the start of the second period.
The Olympiques managed to keep Montreal off the score sheet in the second and out shot the Juniors 9-6. While they were being dominated on the shot clock, however, Montreal had the better chances. In fairness to the Olympiques, a little physical and mental fatigue is probably to be expected given that the team had played two consecutive overtime games before the puck dropped in Montreal. Still, the Juniors' passes were a little crisper, their players were a little quicker to the puck and their overall play was sharper. Jake Allen's continued reliable play ensured that the Olympiques scored nothing more than a moral victory in the second.
With the Juniors still leading 3-0, things started getting a little testy early in the third period. Montreal's Samuel Granache got four minutes for spearing at 2:07 and it looked like the Olympiques might take advantage to get back in the game. Allen had other plans and the lanky Fredericton native made three nice glove saves to help the Juniors maintain their three goal lead.
The Juniors' fourth goal was proof positive that Gatineau was not in Lady Luck's good books on this day. Montreal defender T.J. Brennan, who played an otherwise sound game, got a little lackadaisical in his own zone and had his pocket picked right in front of Allen. Instead of resulting in the Olympiques' first goal, the play went right back the other way and Pier-Antoine Dion scored his third of the season for Montreal. At that point, Gatineau was out shooting Montreal 7-2 in the period and 27-19 in the game but trailing 4-0 where it counts.
The Juniors capped their evening with a shorthanded goal at 13:17 of the third. Samuel Grenache, who could easily have been the goat had Gatineau capitalized on their four minute power play, took advantage of an exhausted Olympiques team to score his second of the year while Fillier was in the box for cross-checking.
With three minutes remaining and the game decided, the penalty parade began. Gatineau's Travis Stacey earned two minutes for charging, 5 minutes for instigating and a game misconduct. Twenty-five seconds later, Nicholas Mayer was called for high-sticking and Montreal had its third five-on-three of the game. Gatineau goaltender Gélinas got the final penalty of the game when he was called for tripping during a goalmouth scramble at 17:59.
• The team announced that highly touted Atlanta Thrashers prospect Angelo Esposito will play his first game in a Juniors uniform on Friday, October 3rd when Montreal hosts the Acadie-Bathurst Titans. Game time at the Verdun Auditorium is 7:30pm.
• With a goal, an assist and a penalty, Montreal captain Matt Fillier, nearly scored a mythical Gordie Howe Hat Trick (goal, assist, fight).
• Juniors' Assistant captain Pat O'Keefe wins the Golden Ice Bag in the "As if we needed further proof that Newfoundlanders are tough" category. The native of Saint-John's blocked a shot as the team was killing off the four minute penalty to Grenache in the third. The thud of puck hitting shin pad elicited a groan of pain from the crowd but O'Keefe played on. Only when the Juniors cleared the zone did he hobble gingerly to the bench. He came back later in the period, although he may have wished he hadn't. He was high-sticked just inside the Gatineau blue line with 2:35 left in the game.
1) Jake Allen
2) Alex Wall
3) Matt Fillier
Shots on Goal:
On Ice Officials:
Referees: Mathieu Côté, Stéphane Tremblay
Linesmen: Yannick Gaudreault, Jonathan Cantin
13:54 Montreal (pp) Matt Fillier assisted by Luke Adam and Pat O'Keefe
18:11 Montreal Alex Wall assisted by Benjamin Rubin
19:30 Montreal Taylor MacDougall assisted by Chris Thorne
7:29 Montreal Pier-Antoine Dion assisted by Alex Wall and Matt Fillier
13:17 Montreal (sh) Samuel Grenache assited by Nick Layton