Junior de Montreal vs. Chicoutimi Sagueneens

On the night of the first snowstorm of the season in Montreal the Chicoutimi Saguenéens made their first trip to town. Impressively over 1,800 brave and loyal fans made their way to the Verdun Auditorium, trudging through the 25 centimeters of freshly fallen snow. They were all to man, woman and child hoping that their dedication would be rewarded.

After losing Sunday afternoon 4-1 versus the lowly Val D'Ors Foreurs everyone was left with a bad taste in their mouths. You were kind of hoping that the team would show what it was made of by playing a strong game against Chicoutimi.

Chicoutimi's has 29 points in 30 games and on paper is a stronger team than Val D'Or. The team's offence rests largely on the shoulders of two NHL drafted players: Jacob Legacé (Buffalo Sabres) with 22 goals and 20 assists and captain Nicolas Deschamps (Anaheim Ducks) with 16 goals and 20 assists. In nets they are quite multi-national as the two young goaltenders are Europeans. Christopher Gibson (17) is from Finland and Robin Gusse (16) is from France.

Very early on Pier-Antoine Dion put his team in trouble by getting a slashing penalty. However, during the 2 minutes he sat there Matthew Brenton had two partial breakaways and set Jérémy Gouchie up for a chance in close. Unfortunately, none of these chances led to goals, but it did indicate to me that the team had their heads and hearts into the game. There would be no repeat of Sunday's poor effort.

That is not to say that the 1st period was top notch entertainment either. There were plenty of shots (Montreal: 12, Chicoutimi: 11), but not a lot of back and forth or clear cut chances.

That all changed when Montreal was awarded a penalty shot at the 1:50 mark of the 2nd period when forward Trevor Parkes was hauled down while on a break away. Calm, cool and collected he went in on Gibson, did a marvelous backhand deke and scored.

This seemed to wake both teams up – especially Chicoutimi, who had several chances to tie the game up shortly after. None better than the seemingly sure goal they had when Jake Allen (speaking of calm, cool and collected) was off to the side of the net completely out of the play and the puck was lying in the crease behind him. Somehow he reached back and covered it up. The game's tempo certainly did pick up from there on.

Chicoutimi's, led by Deschamps – who seemed to be on the ice every second shift and does everything for them what with killing penalties and scoring goals, pressuring of the Junior was rewarded when they knotted up the game at 1-1 at 14:11 mark of the 2nd period. It wasn't a strong goal from the Junior's perspective as Allen should have covered up the puck in the crease and the defenceman should have tied Rock Régimbald up before he found the puck and buried it.

In the 3rd period each team tempted fate by getting one penalty after another. There seemed to always be someone in the box. Space began to be at a premium in the box and Montreal found themselves on the right side of a 4-on-3 advantage. While there was little space in the penalty box there was plenty of open area on the ice.

Despite their season long troubles on the power play, Montreal's Gouchie put his team back on top. The lead held out for almost 12 minutes, but you got a feeling that it was only a matter of time before Chicoutimi tied it up once again as the Junior seemed content to just sit back. And that is always a dangerous game to play. Finally Alexandre Lavoie scored with assists going to Nicolas Therrien and Dominic Jalbert.

Once again demonstrating their willingness to compete and not accept defeat or overtime for that matter. The Junior got a late goal from an unlikely source. Rugged winger Chris Thorne, known more for his defensive, gritty play than his offensive touch, deflected a Vincent Bourgeois shot past Gibson.

Perseverance and hard-nosed play had led to a Junior victory. They showed some character after showing none the previous game. The up-and-down ride with the team this season continues.

The Junior's last game of this 4 game homestand happens on Friday night versus the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Game Stats:
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Dominick Bedard and Pierre-Luc Bedard
Linesmen: Benoit Martineau and Harold Dorvil
-Goals: 2nd Period:
1:50 – Montreal – (ps) Trevor Parkes
14:11 – Chicoutimi – Rock Regimbald assisted by Nicolas Therrien and Dominic Jalbert
3rd Period:
3:19 – Montreal – (pp) Jeremy Gouchie assisted by Alex Wall and David Stich
15:13 – Chicoutimi – Alexandre Lavoie assisted by Nicolas Therrien and Dominic Jalbert
15:34 – Montreal – Chris Thorne assisted by Vincent Bourgeois and Louis-Marc Aubry
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 28
Chicoutimi: 31
-3 Stars: 1) Jeremy Gouchie – Montreal
2) Jake Allen – Montreal
3) Rock Regimbald – Chicoutimi
-Attendance: 1,816
-Final Score: Montreal: 3
Chicoutimi: 2

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