On university night at the Verdun Auditorium and with an exuberant, drumming and vocal crowd filled with students from McGill, HEC, UQAM, etc. the new look Junior de Montreal were playing the new look Val D'Or Foreurs. The Foreurs were incredibly active during the trade period picking up 6 new players. Defenceman Mathieu Leduc (from Chicoutimi), defenceman Youssef Kabbaj (from Chicoutimi), forward Alexandre Touchette (from Gatineau), forward Vincent Couture (from Acadie-Bathurst), forward Nicolas Boyer (from Gatineau), and forward Alexandre Quesnel (from Gatineau).
All that movement is an indication that Val D'Or was going to make a big push for the playoffs. That must have been of some interest to the Junior being the team immediately in front of them in the standings and a team that always has problems against the Foreurs.
The Foreurs are not exactly a good road team with a record of 6-13-1-1, but they seem to have Montreal's number. At this point Montreal is in a playoff position, but must be thinking of improving their lot by moving ahead of Gatineau (who are 1 point ahead of the Junior) and securing home ice advantage in the first series of the playoffs.
The Junior are quite thin right now when it comes to extra bodies. With Vincent Bourgeois and Philippe Fontaine out with longterm injuries they don't have many healthy bodies. On this night the only healthy scratch was forward Hugo Desharnais. A young man who came over in the Pier-Antoine Dion trade with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Patrick Lapostolle (6'00", 205 pounds) was making his home debut with the team. Lapostolle is a big body (of which the Junior don't have many) and seems to be a decent player of the 3rd or 4th line variety.
The beginning of the game had a nice fast pace to it. Players were skating, hitting and there were long stretches between whistles. These were two teams that seemed to understand that this was an important game. The crowd's excitement was turned up a notch by an early fight between Montreal's Jérémy Gouchie and Val D'Or's Marco Scandella. Gouchie showed his toughness with this fight as Scandella has 4 inches and 40 pounds on him. Scandella won the fight, but Gouchie won some points with the fans and his teammates plus he took one of Val D'Or's more important players off the ice with him for 7 minutes.
The fight seemed to spark the Junior as it only took them 5 seconds after it to score the game's first goal. Captain Nicolas Chouinard scored his 19th of the season right off the ensuing faceoff. The Junior almost doubled their lead 5 minutes later, but Chris Thorne hit the post to the right of Foreurs' goaltender Raffaele D'Orso on a 2-on-1 with Matthew Brenton. The 2-on-1s kept coming when Guillaume Asselin almost scored on one with Eliezer Sherbatov and Trevor Parkes had a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Loik Poudrier.
It was an unusually fast start for the Junior, a team that is not known for them. In actuality it was not a fast start, but the way they played the whole game. The Junior dominated their adversaries on this night. They finally did go up 2-0 at the 17:09 mark when David Rose blew a slapshot by D'Orso.
The Junior then scored the all-important "next" goal at the beginning of the 2nd period. Matthew Brenton notched his 7th of the season with assists going to Gouchie and Hubert Genest. They then pretty much iced the game when they scored a power play goal courtesy of a 5-on-3 advantage. Louis-Marc Aubry, fresh off playing in the NHL Top Prospects game in Windsor, Ontario, scored the goal.
Gaining a 4-0 lead after 2 periods did not mean that the Junior could take their foot off the gas, but when they scored their 5th goal, by Gouchie, the game was pretty much over. Even after Val D'Or scored a weak goal at 1:01 to make it 5-1 there was no threat of them mounting an amazing comeback. After the 5th goal it became a game in which the Junior just wanted to get out of without anyone getting hurt as Val D'Or was getting a little chippy. Scandella was dishing out some heavy hits and they were looking for fights. Matt Provost duked it out with Youssef Kabbaj (Provost won handily) and then Dillon Donnelly fought Anthony Taylor.
The Junior played a good game in both ends of the ice. They didn't allow many shots against (15) giving goaltender Jean-Francois Bérubé a relatively easy night between the posts. It was noticeable how many shots they blocked in front of their goaltender. Offensively they took a lot of shots (36) and used their speed to pin the Foreurs defencemen in their own end.
Finishing off their weekend, the Junior will face off against the nation's number one junior team, the Saint John Sea Dogs. As a reminder the Junior de Montreal will be donating 50% of the profits from ticket sales to support the Haiti relief efforts. Come out and support the team and the people of Haiti.
-On-Ice Officials: Referee: Mathieu Bergeron
Linesmen: Shane Black and Sylvain Cloutier
-Goals: 1st Period:
3:58 – Montreal – Nicolas Chouinard assisted by Loik Poudrier and Matthew Brenton
17:09 – Montreal – David Rose assisted by Chris Thorne
3:02 – Montreal – Matthew Brenton assisted by Hubert Genest and Jérémy Gouchie
7:25 – Montreal – (pp) Louis-Marc Aubry assisted by Xavier Ouellet and David Stich
0:24 – Montreal – Jérémy Gouchie assisted by Matthew Brenton
1:01 – Val D'Or – Cédrick Henley assisted by Jean-Francois Leblanc and Mathieu Thériault
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 36
Val D'Or: 15
-3 Stars: 1) Matthew Brenton – Montreal
2) Nicolas Chou nard – Montreal
3) Jérémy Gouchie – Montreal
-Final Score: Montreal: 5
Val D'Or: 1