Yesterday was a tough one for both Montreal hockey teams. While the Canadiens embarrassed themselves by being totally outclassed by a team they are at least equal in talent with the Junior de Montreal can, I guess, take solace in the fact that they were outclassed by a team that is miles better than them.
The Junior were starting a 3 game homestand after a successful 4 game road trip out east which saw them go 3-1. Over the Christmas break several trades went on within the organization and the Montreal team we were seeing on this afternoon was a very different team from the last time we saw them play at home. Defenceman Alex Wall was traded to Moncton, goaltender Jake Allen was traded to Drummondville, forward Pier-Antoine Dion was traded to Cape Breton, and Marc-André Levasseur was shipped off to Chicoutimi. In most cases draft choices came back to the Junior except for young defenceman Dillon Donnelly coming over in the Wall trade from Moncton. The 16-year-old Donnelly did suit up for this game, but his playing time was minimal.
Victoriaville had done Montreal a favour the night before by defeating division rivals Gatineau (a team they are battling for 2nd place in the Telus Western Division). To say the least Victoriaville is an extremely explosive offensive team. Feeling like they have a legitimate chance to win the President's Cup (first place overall in the QMJHL) the Tigres were also very active before the trade deadline adding 3 forwards and 2 defenceman to their already strong roster. Defenceman Samuel Groulx was acquired from the Quebec Remparts, forward Guillaume Goulet from Baie-Comeau, forward Joel Champagne from P.E.I., forward Chris Doyle from P.E.I., and defenceman Emmanuel Boudreau from Rimouski. Whereas the Junior are a team built for the future with all their young players, the Victoriaville is a team for the present.
It was the third game in three days for the visitors, but that did not seem to affect them at all. From the drop of the puck you could see that this was going to be a tough afternoon for the home side. It did not take long for the Tigres to translate their dominance to the scoreboard. Just over 1 minute into the game Guillaume Goulet notched his 6th goal for Victoriaville (24th overall) and pretty much the romp was on.
Montreal seemed to be just sitting back waiting for Victoriaville to dictate the tempo and the oppostion were more than happy to do just that. Playing a very defensive style might have seemed like a good idea against an obviously more talented team, but the silly mistakes that the Junior made all game long did not lend to that style of play.
The Junior were totally dominated in every aspect during the first period. They were outshot 18-6 and Victoriaville added another goal to make it 2-0. Despite the fact that they were outplayed the Junior did have a couple of good scoring chances off their 6 shots on net. It would be a disservice to Victoriaville netminder Kevin Poulin not to mention that he played a strong game. They are not just an offensive team, but this goalie, who has had 5 shutouts this season, plays an important role.
The offensive output continued in the 2nd period for Victoriaville with Joel Champagne scoring at 2:37 and Joel Chouinard's goal at 6:37 driving Junior starting goaltender, Jean-Francois Bérubé, from the net. Now, Bérubé played well (except for the 4th goal, which was a weak one), but he was being pummeled with shots. The very slight and young Etienne Marcoux took over from him.
For what it was worth, Marcoux played a good game and even showed flashes of an excellent glove hand on a couple of sparkling saves. The only goal he let in was tallied late in the 2nd period by Brandon Hynes to make the score 5-0.
During the 3rd period the Tigres were just going through the motions. Other than some chippiness in the late part of the period, both of the teams just seemed to want to get this one over with. Unfortunately for Tigres goaltender Poulin his shutout bid was ruined by virtue of a flukey goal by Eliezer Sherbatov on the power play with just over 5 minutes left in the game.
The second game of three at home is this Friday night versus division rivals Val D'Or.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Nicolas Dutil and Christian Gohier
Linesmen: David Taveroff and Stéfan Capano
-Goals: 1st Period:
1:16 – Victoriaville – Guillaume Goulet assisted by Phillip Danault and Travis McIsaac
12:16 – Victoriaville – Frédéric Tanguay assisted by Yanni Gourde
2:37 – Victoriaville – Joel Champagne assisted by Chris Doyle
6:37 – Victoriaville – Joel Chouinard assisted by Yanni Gourde
17:32 – Victoriaville – (pp) Brandon Hynes assisted by Joel Chouinard and Tomas Kubalik
14:52 – Montreal – (pp) Eliezer Sherbatov assisted by Jonathan Narbonne
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 29
-3 Stars: 1) Joel Chouinard – Victoriaville
2) Kevin Poulin – Victoriaville
3) Samuel Groulx – Victoriaville
-Final Score: Montreal: 1