Is it over yet? That is the question many in attendance at the latest Junior de Montreal game must have been asking themselves. To say it was a boring game would be an understatement. Even the two teams involved for large stretches of the game didn't even seem that interested to be there.
Coming off a hard-earned victory in a shootout versus the Rimouski Océanic on Friday night you had to feel good about the team. They worked hard, played good defence and came out on the right side of a 2-1 victory. Well, all the good feelings that the Junior worked hard to build up on Friday night came crashing down on Sunday afternoon.
Val D'Or seemed like a team ripe for the picking. They have several important players out with injuries including Maxime Sauvé, who is out for 10 weeks with a broken leg. Val D'Or is also below Montreal in the overall standings with a 10-18-2-0 record for 22 points. This is a team you have to collect your 2 points at home against. With their roster looking more like a Junior AAA team than a Major Junior team you would had to have been feeling very confident going into the game if you are a Junior supporter.
More good news for the Junior is that they are gaining ground on the Gatineau Olympiques, who are right ahead of them for the last playoff place in their division. Gatineau started off very strong, but is now going through a terrible 0-6 stretch. This losing streak has allowed Montreal to pull within 3 points of them. With a win they would reduce that to 1 point. You would think that was extra incentive.
With only 1:30 gone in the 1st period winger Guillaume Asselin found himself sitting in the penalty box after he was caught for tripping. Not the start that Coach Pascal Vincent, back from a scouting trip to Russia, would have wanted. Once again Montreal would have to be careful in regards to penalties as the Foreurs have the league's 7th best power play. But you would have to think with all their injuries this was going to be difficult for the Foreurs to maintain. Fortunately for Asselin and the Junior their strong penalty killing continued and no damage was done.
Not only was no damage done, but the Foreurs did not even register a shot on net during their power play. To go even further, the Foreurs did not even have a shot on net for the first 10 minutes of the game. This is the type of game that is very difficult for goaltenders. It had to be tough for Jake Allen to stay concentrated with only 3 shots being directed at him during the entire 1st period.
The Junior totally dominated in regards to play and shots in the 1st period, but they could not put any by Foreurs goaltender Raffaele D'Orso. They even had a 4 minute man advantage when defenceman and captain Marco Scandella, one of the 10 players from QMJHL who were invited to the Junior Team Canada tryout, got a 4 minute penalty for hitting from behind. As has been the case all year, the Junior did not do much with the extended man advantage. Coach Vincent was trying everything to jumpstart his power play as he even gave defensive players Matthew Brenton and Chris Thorne some man advantage ice time.
In the 2nd period, Allen showed he was able to maintain his concentration as he made some sparkling saves during a 5-on-3 Val D'Or advantage with Nicolas Chouinard and Matt Provost sitting in the box. But even he quickly showed chinks in his armor.
The Junior de Montreal's inability to score goals (they only have 95 goals in 31 games) once again came back to haunt them as during a 6 minute span in the 2nd period the Foreurs exploded for 3 goals and the game was pretty much over. Simon Lacroix, Samuel Morneau (his 14th of the year) and Olivier Dallaire all put even strength goals beyond a stunned Allen. You had to think that Coach Vincent was furious at his players at this point. It had only taken 10 shots for the Foreurs to score 3 goals and Montreal could only muster 2 shots on goal in the middle frame. What a turn around!
If you had any thoughts about the Junior making a furious comeback in the 3rd period they were quashed at the 2:28 mark when Scandella, off a great set up by Olivier Archambault, scored to make it 4-0. With that kind of deficit facing a team that does not score many goals it is virtually impossible to come back.
With 12 minutes left in the game I thought to myself that I was watching a contest between two teams who just wanted the game to be over with. Neither was really doing much. Which is very disappointing when it comes to the Junior. They might not have had a snowball's chance in hell to score 4 goals in 17 minutes, but they could at least make it look like they were trying.
The only good news of this game was that Montreal's power play finally got a goal. After Dallaire got a penalty, Louis-Marc Aubry scored with the assist going to Chouinard at 15:06.
Any hopes for more goals were also quickly quashed when Hubert Genest (@ 16:35) and Jérémy Gouchie (@ 18:20) got back to back penalties during the last 4 minutes of the game. Undisciplined and Coach Vincent's blood pressure must have hit a record high. The up and down season continues for the Junior de Montreal.
The next opponent for the Junior de Montreal on this 4 game homestand is the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, who are in town on Wednesday evening.
-On-Ice Officials: Referee: Marc-André Lavoie
Linesmen: Maxime Chaput and Benoit Vigeant-Sansoucy
-Goals: 2nd Period:
11:32 – Val D'Or – Simon Lacroix assisted by Olivier Archambault and Gabriel Beaupré
14:41 – Val D'Or – Samuel Morneau assisted by Cédric Henley and Olivier Dallaire
16:59 – Val D'Or – Olivier Dallaire assisted by Gabriel Beaupré
2:28 – Val D'Or – Marco Scandella assisted by Olivier Archambault
15:06 – Montreal – (pp) Louis-Marc Aubry assited by Nicholas Chouinard
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 22
Val D'Or: 23
-3 Stars: 1) Marco Scandella – Val D'Or
2) Simon Lacroix – Val D'Or
3) Raffaele D'Orso – Val D'Or
-Final Score: Montreal: 1
Val D'Or: 4