You knew it had to happen eventually. The Junior de Montreal winning streak was halted at eight games with a 2-1 loss Saturday night in Gatineau. It is also not surprising that reports came through that the team played like they were tired during the game. Though they are young they are not superhuman and the 6 games in 9 days took its toll.
Another negative was that Louis Leblanc had to play the games (plus one of the Subway Super Series versus the Russians) with an injury to his shoulder. To help him out coach Pascal Vincent had moved him to the wing so he would not have to take face offs. Another victim was defenceman Charles-Olivier Roussel who would not dress against Drummondville after having taken a puck off the head versus Gatineau. Though not everything was looking down. During this streak over the course of one week the team had moved from 8th overall in the QMJHL to 4th.
Drummondville would be a tough opponent as they are in 1st place in the Telus West Division (but Montreal has 4 games in hand on them). The Voltigeurs are a strong team, but they are basically a one line team. Stop the big line of Sean Couturier, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Brunelle and you've pretty much shut down their offense. Couturier is the man to watch as he is predicted by many to be the number one draft pick in the next NHL draft. Drummondville is also the number one penalty killing team in the QMJHL. Working at 91% efficiency they have also scored 6 shorthanded goals. The other strong point of the team is goaltender Guillaume Nadeau. He has an 11-2 record, .913 save percentage and already has 4 shutouts this season.
Montreal demonstrated that they know how to get up for big games and that they possess a more balanced attack than Drummondville. Jérémy Gouchie was assigned the difficult task of shutting down Couturier and was more than up to it. He dominated in the face off (winning 14 of 21) and did not really allow Couturier to get even a sniff at the Junior net.
Right from the early part of the game the Junior were all over Drummondville. An early wrap around attempt by Janos Hari rolled across the goal line. Time and time again Montreal used their speed to put pressure on the Voltigeurs. Minutes later Montreal Canadien's property Philippe Lefebvre was sent in on Nadeau on a breakaway. He beat the Voltigeur goalie cleanly only to hit the post behind him. Montreal had all the early good scoring chances in this game.
After a scoreless 1st period the Junior finally translated scoring chances into goals when they exploded for 3 in the middle frame. Trevor Parkes laid a crushing hit on defenceman Charles-David Beaudoin and in the process stripped him of the puck. Parkes then fed Gouchie in the slot and he potted his 7th of the campaign with a top shelf wrist shot. Then a mere 1 minute and 20 seconds later at the 6:05 mark on the power play Nicolas Chouinard took advantage of big juicy rebound given up by Nadeau to double the lead to 2-0.
Drummondville was looking like the tired team as they were constantly on their heels and Montreal was taking the game to them. To round out the scoring in the 2nd period, Lefebvre got a goal at 9:34 that demonstrated his talent. It was a pure goal scorers goals with him finding the little space there was in between the goalie's shoulder and the crossbar. Drummondville coach Mario Duhamel called a time out to regroup his troops.
Not only were the forwards clicking, but goaltender Jean-Francois Bérubé was playing well. He was ultra sharp with some great glove grabs and playing with plenty of confidence. It was also a game that the Junior protected their goaltender very well not allowing very many second chances.
After the Junior took the commanding lead some bad stuff started happening on the ice. The referees were just letting things go. Drummondville's frustrated and their plumbers were taking it out on Montreal players. There were a couple of fights, but thank God nothing really major happened. It was probably wise of Vincent not to play Leblanc during the 3rd period as he is already injured and you wouldn't want to lose him long term due to another team's frustration and the refs' inability to control the game.
The Junior sealed the deal with two quick goals in the 3rd period before the 6 minute mark by Philippe Fontaine, the first on a deflection and the second on a breakaway as a result of a great pass by Matt Provost.
The only question at this point with a 5-0 Montreal lead would be whether Bérubé would get a shutout. The Voltigeurs scored a goal on the power play to ruin the Montreal goalie's shutout bid.
On a beautiful Indian summer afternoon the Verdun Auditorium was almost full and the crowd was quite raucous at times. It was good to see this talented team finally get some notice. This was the Junior's last home game until December 3rd and was a good way to leave the confines of their home rink. It was an engaging game with some of the better players in all of junior hockey on display.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Marc Muylaert and Stéphane Tremblay
Linesmen: Stéfan Capano and Julien Lavoie
-Goals: 2nd Period:
4:55 – Montreal – Jérémy Gouchie assisted by Trevor Parkes and Xavier Ouellet
6:05 – Montreal – (pp) Nicolas Chouinard assisted by Louis Leblanc and Xavier Ouellet
9:34 – Montreal – Philippe Lefebvre assisted by Trevor Parkes and Jérémy Gouchie
3:44 – Montreal – Philippe Fontaine assisted by Francis Meilleur and Jonathan Narbonne
5:34 – Montreal – Philippe Fontaine assisted by Matt Provost
14:21 – Drummondville – Jean-Philippe Mathieu assisted by Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Oligny
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 30
-3 Stars: 1) Xavier Ouellet – Montreal
2) Jean-Francois Bérubé – Montreal
3) Jérémy Gouchie – Montreal
-Final Score: Montreal: 5