HALIFAX – Joe Veleno and Bokondji Imama scored 26 seconds apart early in the second period to lead the Saint John Sea Dogs to a 2-1 victory over the Halifax Mooseheads Saturday at Scotiabank Centre, in the final game of the regular season.
Alex D’Orio was impressive in the Saint John (48-14-5-1) goal with 23 saves.
Maxime Fortier scored the only goal for Halifax (27-35-3-3), which lost its last two games of the season.
Saint John played with only 16 skaters. Nine regulars did not play, most of whom were rested in a game that had no playoff implications for them.
A scoring summary is available HERE.
The Mooseheads scored the opening goal more than eleven minutes into the first period, moments after killing a penalty.
Jordan Lepage, who had just escaped the penalty box, took a pass near the Saint John blueline and carried it down the left wing. He fed Fortier, streaking through the middle, and the Halifax leading scorer beat D’Orio with a deke to his forehand.
Veleno tied the game with a power play goal six-and-a-half minutes into the second.
Samuel Dove-McFalls fired a shot from the left point that goalie Alexis Gravel kicked into the right circle. Veleno grabbed it and ripped a wrister over the sprawling goaltender.
Imama gave the Sea Dogs the lead 26 seconds later.
After Saint John recovered the puck in the right corner, Veleno took a pass behind the net. The 16-year-old dropped a feed to Imama near the right side of the crease and the overage winger snapped a quick wrist shot under the crossbar to make it 2-1.
Halifax thought it had tied the game six minutes into the third period when overage defenceman Frederic Aube moved into the slot and redirected a pass from the left point over D’Orio’s blocker. Video replay officials determined the Mooseheads were offside when they entered the Saint John zone and the goal was disallowed.
The Mooseheads pulled Gravel for an extra attacker late in the game, but could not tie the score.
Gravel turned aside 28 shots in the loss.
Halifax held a ceremony prior to the game to honour its graduating 20-year-old players. Keigan Goetz, Jake Coughler and Aube were also named the game’s three stars in front of a sellout crowd of 10,595 fans.
The Sea Dogs will face the Rimouski Oceanic in Round 1 of the 2017 President Cup playoffs. The schedule is still to be determined.
Playoff ticket packages are on sale at the Harbour Station Box Office. Single-game tickets for Games 1 and 2 at Harbour Station will also go on sale on Monday at the box office. Click HERE for more information.