Maybe the stars were aligned just so. Maybe someone was wearing his lucky underwear. Maybe it was that the power play went 5 for 5. Whatever it was, the Montreal Juniors rode it to a convincing 7-3 win over the Tigres de Victoriaville Sunday afternoon at the Verdun Auditorium. (The smart money says it was the power play, although one should never underestimate the influence of the stars or of a favourite pair of unmentionables.)
Victoriaville got off to a quick start with Brandon Hynes beat Junior's stalwart Jake Allen with a dribbler only 28 seconds into the opening frame. Montreal tied it up less than five minutes later when captain Matt Fillier took advantage of a pretty set up by Luke Adam and Nick Layton to beat Loïc Boivin, who was a surprise starter in the Victoriaville net.
Victoriaville's real trouble started at 8:27 of the first when defenceman Antoine Laperrière was unable to glove a high puck at the Tigres' blue line. Layton grabbed it only to be mugged by Laperrière as he tried to carry the puck into the zone. Nine seconds into the ensuing power play, Luke Adam scored his eighth of the season from Layton and Dmitri Kostromintin. It was the first point of the season for Kostromintin in just his second game.
That was all Victoriaville head coach Yanick Jean needed to see. Boivin was replaced by New York Islanders' draft pick Kevin Poulin. Boivin didn't look particularly bad on either of Montreal's goals, especially considering he wasn't getting much help from his team mates, so the move was probably designed to shake the Tigres up. Unfortunately, Laperrière seemingly missed the coach's wake-up call because he was back in the box less than a minute later after the change. This time it was for cross-checking. Montreal had ample time to set up their power play and Fillier netted his second of the game at 10:22 of the first, with assists going to Adam and Kostromintin. (The goal was originally credited to Adam from Kostromintin and T.J. Brennan.)
Victoriaville's number 13, Maxime Tanguay (le frère de l'autre) managed to slip behind the Montreal defense but wound up on the score sheet not with a goal, but with two minutes for goalie interference after flattening Allen in the crease. A pretty tic-tac-toe play with Layton and Adam saw Fillier net his third of the period. Because the scoring change on his second goal had yet to be made, the 3 043 fans in attendance weren't able to shower him with hats. Given the choice between a flood of hats and a 4-1 lead after a little more than half a period of play, though, one suspects Fillier would take the lead over the haberdashery. How good a first period did the captain have? The best scoring chance on a late first period Victoriaville power play was Fillier on a short-handed break.
To their credit, the Tigres didn't fold up their tent and go home despite trailing by three at the end of the first. They outshot the hometown boys 17 to 4 in the second period, but if anyone thought an early goal would faze Jake Allen, well, let's hope they didn't put money on it. In spite of throwing 17 shots at the net, Victoriaville was only able to beat him once. Hynes scored his second of the game while Allen was being distracted by Philip-Michaël Devos who was loitering at the edge of the blue paint.
With the score 4-2, the visitors had reason to hope as they started the third period. A penalty to defenceman Keven Dupont only 40 seconds in, however, effectively destroyed any momentum the Tigres might have had after their strong second stanza. Fillier had a great chance but was unable to net his fourth of the game. Then, with the Tigres still down a man and a Victoriaville player playing without a stick, Guillaume Asselin scored his sixth of the season to make it 5-2.
Victoriaville took advantage of a power play opportunity of their own to make it close again. Joël Chouinard's shot deflected off Kostromintin and past Allen to narrow the gap to 5-3. But that was all she wrote for the Tigres. After stopping Ben Rubin on a penalty shot, Poulin was beaten by Matthew Brenton at even strength. Frustrated, the Tigres' 'keeper slammed his stick on the ice as the teams skated back to centre for the face off.
After some chippy play, the Juniors earned their fifth power play of the game thanks in large part to some hard work around the net by Guillaume Asselin and Louis-Marc Aubry. While he didn't get an assist, Montreal's seventh goal, their fifth with the man advantage, was set up by Luke Adam. He had the puck on a string as he skated along the boards and behind the Victoriaville net while his team mates set up. Nick Layton was the ultimate beneficiary, scoring his sixth of the season from Kostromintin and Bourgeois. With a shade over 5 minutes left, Poulin was pulled in favour of starter Boivin.
On the strength of their second period, Victoriaville out shot Montreal 36-31 in the game. They had heart but they were no match for the Juniors on this day. Would things have been different if the Tigres had managed to stay out of the penalty box? Probably, but give credit where credit is due. The Juniors were firing on all cylinders and they capitalized on the chances they created with their hard work, speed and smarts. Which, in the end, is probably a far better hockey strategy than relying on Jupiter aligning with Mars.
-The Juniors hit the road for two games and are back at the Auditorium on Wednesday, November 5th when they host the Foreurs de Val-d'Or.
-Think Luke Adam likes playing Victoriaville? He has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in two games against the Tigres this season.
-Good news: The Juniors were awarded a penalty shot for the second consecutive game. Bad news: The Juniors were stopped for on a penalty shot for the second consecutive game.
-The Golden Ice Bag is awarded to Victoriaville captain Philip-Michaël Devos. He was badly cut by a stick when he collided with one of his own players in the first period. He came back, with a full cage, and earned an assist on his team's second goal.
-The teams took offsetting minors in the third, but Pat O'Keefe's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for diving begs the question: How can you call a penalty and a dive on the same play? If the player dove, it wasn't a penalty. If it was a penalty, the player didn't dive.
Three Stars: 1) Matt Fillier, Montreal
2) Luke Adam, Montreal
3) Brandon Hynes, Victoriaville
Shots on Goal:
On Ice Officials:
Referee: Dominick Bedard
Linesmen: Dominic Tessier, David Taveroff
0:28 Victoriaville Brandon Hynes assisted by Philip-Michaël Devos
4:47 Montreal Matt Fillier assisted by Nick Layton and Luke Adam
8:36 Montreal (pp) Luke Adam assisted by Nick Layton and Dmitri Kostromintin
10:22 Montreal (pp) Matt Fillier assisted by Dmitri Kostromintin and Luke Adam
11:58 Montreal (pp) Matt Fillier assisted by Nick Layton and Luke Adam
18:36 Victoriaville Brandon Hynes assisted by Philip-Michaël Devos and Andrej Nestrasil
2:25 Montreal (pp) Guillaume Asselin assisted by Pat O'Keefe and Alex Wall
6:44 Victoriaville Joël Chouinard assisted by Maxime Robichaud
9:55 Montreal Matthew Brenton assisted by Vincent Bourgeois
15:13 Montreal (pp) Nick Layton assisted by Dmitri Kostromintin and Vincent Bourgeois