If you looked at the early season schedule for the Junior de Montreal and were worried about them playing two games this weekend in less than 24 hours you needn't have been. Not only did they win both games, but they did so in dominant fashion. Flexing their offensive muscles, Montreal outscored their opponents 10-3 over the two games. Not much to not be happy about for the team, coach or fans.
In the second game Montreal was facing a team higher than them in the standings. Val D'Or had a 3-2 record over 5 games. They also were playing their second game in less than 24 hours, but were at more of disadvantage than Montreal as they had to travel. Both teams were coming off wins with Montreal defeating Saint John 4-1 and Val D'Or squeaking by Victoriaville 6-5.
Surprising everyone, I think, goaltender Jean-François Bérubé was back from the Los Angeles Kings' tryout camp (probably taking the red eye from the west coast), but wisely coach Pascale Vincent started Etienne Marcoux again in nets. This is valuable experience for the young man and I'm sure Bérubé is not worried as he knows he will be getting plenty of starts over the course of the season. The only other change for Montreal from Friday night was leaving Jean-Christophe Laflamme (who I thought, with a goal and several good hits, had a good game) on the sidelines and dressing Michael Clarke. Clarke is a bigger player than Laflamme (5'8" vs. 6'1") and maybe that is the reason he was inserted.
Jacob Gervais-Chouinard was starting in nets for Val D'Or and it was not one of his strongest performances. Though the Junior came out like gangbusters and even dominated on the shot clock 13-0 ten minutes into the game, the two 1st period goals that Gervais-Chouinard let in were weak ones. Clarke's (making Vincent's decision look like the right one) wrist shot just before the 7:00 mark that dribbled through the five-hole and 41 seconds later Janos Hani's shot somehow slid along the ground then under the Val D'Or goalie. Eight minutes in and it was already 2-0 Montreal and once again you never doubted for one moment during the game that they were going to come away with the win.
Montreal is not only a good skating team, but big and use their size. Guys like Philippe Fontaine, captain Nicolas Chouinard and Jérémy Gouchie play the body regularly. Following their lead Trevor Parkes threw a check or two in the game. The feistiness is contagious as even the diminutive Eliezer Sherbatov found himself at the center of a couple of scrums and then surprising everyone dropped the gloves at the end of the 2nd period when he didn't like the liberties the Foreurs were taking with Marcoux.
After Parkes scored on the power play at the 7:43 mark of the 2nd period it seemed like it was the end of Gervais-Chouinard's night, but that was not the case. François Tremblay was inserted in the Foreurs net. The Junior were not any more hospitable to him as they peppered him with shots and put 3 goals behind him in just over a period. The only weak one was the Francis Meilleur wrist shot from the blue line (that I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on and say he might have been screened on). Both the Philippe Lefebvre's (already his 5th of the season) and Janos Hari's (his first in the QMJHL) goals were on the power play, so you can't blame him on them.
When it was 6-1 at the 12:00 mark of the 3rd period Gervais-Chouinard was put back in the net. He managed to blank the Junior for the rest of the game (though the Junior came close with Meilleur and Charles-Olivier Roussel hitting the post) while his team put one more beyond young Marcoux. 6-2 was the final score and again the Junior dominated for 60 minutes. They outshot Val D'Or 48-12. It was a game of men versus boys.
Everything about the game was positive with the only potential negative happening when Hari, who scored two goals in the game, collected one assist and was named the game's first star, went into the left corner in the Foreurs zone and fell awkwardly. You could tell immediately that he was hurt. To make matters worse, Louis-Marc Aubry, who was coming to Hari's defence, got into a scuffle and fell on Hari. Hari was helped off the ice not able to put any weight on his right leg. And he never returned to the game. Hopefully this is not a serious injury.
It was not the biggest crowd, but there were plenty of young people in the stands on this Saturday afternoon and they made plenty of noise. The home team also gave them lots to cheer about. Outshooting the opposition 4 to 1, only allowing 12 shots against and notching 3 power play goals. Everything was clicking. All this with their most talented offensive player, Louis Leblanc, still missing.
The next home game for the Junior will be Friday, October 1st versus the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Come out to the game and make sure you jump onboard this bandwagon early as I have a feeling it is going to fill up rapidly.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Eric Charron and Frédéric Leblance
Linesmen: Sylvain Losier and Serge Carpentier
-Goals: 1st Period:
6:58 – Montreal – Michael Clarke assisted by Xavier Ouellet and Charles-Olivier Roussel
7:39 – Montreal – Janos Hari assisted by Nicolas Chouinard and Louis-Marc Aubry
7:43 – Montreal – (pp) Trevor Parkes assisted by Jérémy Gouchie and Francis Meilleur
0:31 – Montreal – Francis Meilleur assisted by Louis-Marc Aubry and Janos Hari
5:31 – Val D'Or – (pp) Olivier Archambault assisted by Jonathan Hazen and Alexandre Touchette
7:58 – Montreal – (pp) Philippe Lefebvre assisted by Charles-Olivier Roussel and Jérémy Gouchie
11:56 – Montreal – (pp) Janos Hari assisted by Xavier Ouellet and Charles Landry
12:47 – Val D'Or – Marc-Alain Bégin assisted by Guillaume Gélinas and Olivier Dallaire
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 48
Val D'Or: 12
-3 Stars: 1) Janos Hari – Montreal
2) Francis Meilleur – Montreal
3) Jérémy Gouchie – Montreal
-Final Score: Montreal: 6
Val D'Or: 2