To say that the Junior de Montreal season has been an up and down one would be an understatement. They play one or two good games and follow that up with a stinker. After playing three good games in a row recently (winning two and losing one) during their last game they fell apart in the third period on the road against Gatineau. They were leading 2-1 in the third only to lose the game 3-2. It seems like it was be one of those losses you would categorize as 'crushing'. Now they had to come back the next night and play the league's number one team the Moncton Wildcats. This would certainly be a gut check game.
On a hopeful note the Moncton team (with a stellar record of 18-1-2 coming into this game) was also playing their third game in three nights. I bet many on the Junior bench were secretly thankful of that. During the first 12 minutes of period number one the play was back and forth with each team getting scoring chances but the goaltenders (Jake Allen for Montreal and backup Louis Boileau-Domingue for Moncton) did not let any of the shots beat them. Over the last 8 minutes of the period Montreal took over and enjoyed the balance of the play and applied much pressure on Boileau-Domingue and his defencemen.
Montreal's domination continued in the second period and finally Pier-Antoine Dion's eighth goal of the year broke the scoreless tie at the 15 minute mark. Let the good times roll! And they continued rolling when defeceman Pat O'Keefe scored again 24 seconds later on a long shot that eluded Boileau-Domingue. The inconsistent Montreal team was up two goals on the number one Moncton Wildcats. Who could have predicted this?! They were not only up by two goals, but had totally outplayed the Wildcats and outshot them 17-6 in the second period. Both teams, as previously mentioned, were finishing a string of three games in three nights, but it seemed like Montreal was still going strong and Moncton had the tired, heavy legs.
Could they hold the lead on this night against a strong opponent was the question? I'm sure their previous night's collapse was on their minds, but Montreal came out strong in the third period and added to their lead on an early goal by Guillaume Asselin (his 8th of the season) that snuck through the five-hole on Boileau-Domingue. Montreal seemed to be on their way to handing Moncton only their second defeat of the year.
Halt the presses as the game became closer than expected and chippy all of a sudden. After double minors to Montreal's Luke Adam and Moncton's Zach Sill, Moncton scored their first goal off a goal mouth scramble. Shifty forward Pierre-Marc Lessard on the power play (with David Foucher in the box) had made it a two goal game.
Then at 13:01 after a huge, but clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Montreal captain Matt Fillier on a Moncton player he dropped the gloves against Moncton defenceman Paul Dimitruk. Dimitruk was ejected from the game due to his 2 minute instigator penalty, which is an automatic in the QMJHL. Montreal's T.J. Brennan and Moncton's Matthew Bissonnette were also issued 10 minute misconduct penalties for not leaving the area of the fight in a timely manner (a new rule in the QMJHL).
With all that sorted out and the penalties all (except Dimitruk) served Moncton went for broke and pulled their goalie with 1:36 left in the contest. The gamble ended up paying off as they scored a goal with 1:16 left to make the game 3-2. It couldn't happen to the Junior two nights in a row could it? Despite some furious action in the Montreal end they held on for the victory. This is a win that should instil plenty of confidence into the Junior.
Our hometown boys (other than Luke Adam, Angelo Esposito and goaltender Jake Allen who are off to compete in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge) now have a couple of days off to rest up for the big game at home against the Quebec Ramparts on Friday. It should be a fun game as the Junior de Montreal are paying tribute to the former Montreal Canadien star net minder and present Rampart coach Patrick Roy the night before his shirt is raised to the rafters at the Bell Centre.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Eric Charron, Nathan Wieler
Linesmen: David Taveroff, Serge Carpentier
-Goals: 2nd Period:
15:00 – Montreal – Pier-Antoine Dion assisted by Guillaume Asselin and Pat O'Keefe
15:24 – Montreal – Alex Wall assisted by Chris Thorne and Matthew Brenton
2:05 – Montreal – Guillaume Asselin assisted by Dmitri Kostromintin
7:11 – Moncton – (pp) Pierre-Marc Lessard assisted by Matt Eagles and Randy Cameron
18:44 – Moncton – Scott Brannon assisted by Ted Stephens
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 37
-3 Stars: 1) Guillaume Asselin – Montreal
2) Alex Wall – Montreal
3) Matt Fillier – Montreal