The beginning of the Junior de Montreal season is one that would test even a veteran team. They had to begin it with four straight games on the road and now at home they have a tough stretch of 4 games in 8 days. There has been no easing into the season for this young team. Showing their mettle they passed the first test by going 2-2 on the road. The second test is being handled as well as they have a 2-1 record with one home game to go.
Friday nights in Verdun/Montreal have become Junior de Montreal nights. They regularly play home games on Friday nights and it is a great way to end the work week by coming out to see these guys play. You can bring the kids out for an affordable night of high quality hockey.
If you chose to do that this Friday then you and the kids got an extra treat as the Junior paid tribute in a nice pregame ceremony to legendary junior hockey player, former Montreal Canadiens legend, Hockey Hall of Fame member, and the second oldest living Montreal Canadiens (at the age of 89) Emile "Butch" Bouchard. Surrounded by a couple of his grandsons, a former teammate and his son, also a former Habs player, Pierre Bouchard, Emile Bouchard was given a painting by the mayor of Verdun and his own official Junior de Montreal uniform with the number 3 and "Bouchard" on the back. Classy move by the organization to pay tribute to this great player.
As is typical of Junior coach Pascal Vincent he had made some changes to his lineup despite the fact that the last game had been a convincing 6-3 victory. Veteran forwards Toni Ritter and Philippe Fontaine (maybe it was his three penalties that the coach was not happy with?) found themselves on the sidelines with Evgeny Solomonov and Marc-André Levasseur back in. Another change was that Los Angeles Kings' draft choice, Jean-François Bérubé was the starting goaltender.
Despite the delay of the starting time of the game due to the pregame ceremony both teams started out with plenty of jump. And this would be par for the course for almost the entire game for the home side. One of the problems that last year's team often encountered was a lack of scoring punch. This despite have offensively gifted veteran players like Nick Layton, Angelo Esposito and Luck Adam. Well, this year's team is proving that you don't need stars as long as you have balance and contribution from everyone. The 2009-10 Junior de Montreal are having no problems scoring goals…in bunches.
Fans had barely sat down from the rousing version of the Canadian national anthem sung by former Montreal Canadiens anthem singer André Ouellet when captain Nicolas Chouinard continued his strong play by notching 5th goal of the young campaign 0:36 seconds in off a mad scramble in the crease of Seadogs' netminder Marc-Antoine Gélinas. You had to know that despite giving up an early goal that a team with a 5-2 record was not going to curl up and die, so it was not surprising when the visitor fought back and believed they had tied the score with the man advantage less than 5 minutes later, but the play was reviewed and the goal judge decided no goal.
Despite some good saves early on, Bérubé did give up a goal (a real one this time) on the same power play on a howitzer from the right point by Seadogs defenceman Yann Sauvé. They followed that up with another goal just over 2 minutes later by Alexandre Leduc from Danick Gauthier and Stanislav Galiev. Just like that the home team's early lead was gone. And the crowd, which had been rocking, went quiet.
Maybe they were inspired by "Butch" Bouchard or they just are strong enough to face some adversity and react appropriately. Whatever the case, the Junior took back the lead with goals in swift succession (4, 5 and 6 minutes later) by Loic Poudrier (his first of the season), Marc-André Levasseur (also his first of the season) and Poudrier again. Just like that the Junior went ahead 4-2 and it was a lead they would never relinquish.
That's not to say that it was easy. But every time Saint John would score a goal the Junior would respond with one of their own. By the end of the 3rd period Eliezer Sherbatov finally iced the game at 18:55 with an empty net goal to make the final score 7-4 for the Junior de Montreal.
It was another impressive victory against a team with a winning record. The usual suspects like Eliezer Sherbatov, Nicolas Chouinard and Guillaume Asselin led the team offensively, but they were helped by the likes of Chris Thorne (who notched his first goal of the season on a breakaway) and Loic Poudrier. It was a team victory with the only negative that can be said was that they gave up two power play goals and didn't score on their own seven chances. But it wouldn't be fair to them and it would take away from the good feelings that this win has generated to expect perfection.
Before they go on the road for two games, the Junior finish off the home stand with a game Sunday afternoon against the Baie Comeau Drakkar.
-On-Ice Officials: Referee: Dominick Bédard
Linesmen: Bruno Forest and Maxime Chaput
-Goals: 1st Period:
0:36 – Montreal – Nicolas Chouinard assisted by Louis-Marc Aubry and Eliezer Sherbatov
6:27 – Saint John – (pp) Yann Sauvé assisted by Michael Kirkpatrick
8:31 – Saint John – Alexandre Leduc assisted by Danick Gauthier and Stanislav Galiev
10:23 – Montreal – Loic Poudrier assisted by Guillaume Asselin
11:20 – Montreal – Marc-André Levasseur assisted by Guillaume Asselin
12:12 – Montreal – Loic Poudrier unassisted
17:05 – Saint John – Zack Phillips assisted by Olivier Ouellet
2:55 – Montreal – Chris Thorne assisted by Pier-Antoine Dion
15:28 – Saint John – (pp) Steven Anthony assisted by Michael Kirkpatrick and Nathan Beaulieu
3:37 – Montreal – Eliezer Sherbatov assisted by Nicolas Chouinard and Louis-Marc Aubry
18:55 – Montreal – (en) Eliezer Sherbatov assisted by Nicolas Chouinard
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 25
Saint John: 34
-3 Stars: 1) Nicolas Chouinard – Montreal
2) Loic Poudrier – Montreal
3) Matthew Brenton – Montreal