April 20, 2012
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – The Saint John Sea Dogs scored three goals in the third period to break open a close, hard-hitting Game 1 of their President’s Cup semifinal series with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
Stanislav Galiev, Jonathan Huberdeau, Danick Gauthier scored in the three-goal third, turning a 1-1 deadlock into a 4-1 lead in less than nine minutes. Pierre Durepos had the other Saint John goal, Kevin Gagne racked up three assists and Charlie Coyle chipped in two helpers. Mathieu Corbeil made 24 saves to earn the win and first star honours ahead of second star Galiev, who had an assist to go with his goal.
Mathieu Gagnon scored for Chicoutimi and Christopher Gibson was named third star for his 29-save performance in the opening contest of the best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League series.
The teams renew acquaintances with Game 2 set for 3 p.m. Sunday in Saint John. Tickets are available at the Harbour Station box office, and can also be purchased by calling 506-657-1234 or online at www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.
The series features a matchup of NHL-drafted goaltenders, with Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Corbeil manning the Saint John goal against Gibson, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick.
Corbeil made the first of several highlight-reel saves on the night with the Dogs down by two men early in the first period. Steve Lebel had an outstanding chance from the bottom of the left-wing circle but the 20-year-old netminder turned to his right and reached across to swat Lebel’s shot away with the blocker.
After Saint John killed the 5-on-3, Jonathan Huberdeau had a chance right out of the penalty box, spinning between two defenders and firing a backhander that Gibson handled with the glove. The hard-hitting, back-and-forth first period had fans on the edge of their seats, and some came out of them when Gauthier’s shot hit the side of the net with seven minutes to go. A minute later former Sea Dog Alexandre Beauregard tried to challenge Coyle at the Saint John blueline but the big forward shoved Beauregard to the ground, sending his helmet skittering to centre ice.
Corbeil came up with another outstanding save late in the second, going into a full splits to make a left pad save on Yoan Pinette and holding his position long enough to keep out the rebound. That set up a great chance at the other end when Gauthier drove in from the right wing, but Gibson stopped him, and Huberdeau on the rebound try.
The Sags drew first blood at 6:16 of the second period when Gagnon’s knuckling shot from the top of the left-wing circle hit something on the way through and bounced past Corbeil to make it 1-0. Chicoutimi seized the momentum, with Lukas Sedlak coming in on a short breakaway on the ensuing shift, but Corbeil came out to stare him down and turned the chance away.
After killing five straight Chicoutimi power plays, Saint John got a pair of opportunities with the man advantage midway through the second. Saint John’s best chances came on the second one, in particular when Coyle walked out from behind the net and the Dogs got a couple of whacks in front. Just after the second penalty expired, Gauthier had a glorious chance to convert a Galiev rebound, but Gibson stoned him on the backhand try. Then Coyle seemed sure to get Saint John on the board when he found himself alone in tight on Gibson, but the collapsing goaltender held on as Coyle tried to stickhandle around him.
Finally it was a Durepos shot from the left point that found its way through to make it 1-1 at 17:02 of the second. Gagne and Coyle collected the assists on the goal, the first of the playoffs for Saint John’s “Steady Eddie.”
The Dogs came back out of the dressing room on a high and Galiev put them in the lead with a great individual effort at 1:20 of the final frame. The Russian sniper drove around a defender from the left wing and forced the puck in, jamming it into the net along with Gibson’s left pad. Gagne and Corbeil had the assists on the goal, Galiev’s eighth.
A heads-up play by Coyle set up Huberdeau’s insurance marker at 3:39. Coyle batted a puck down with his glove and knocked it off a defender to Huberdeau. The Saint John captain waited out Gibson and went around him as the goaltender committed. The goal was Huberdeau’s seventh of the post-season, with the other assist going to Nathan Beaulieu.
After a brief interlude in which a brave Sea Dogs fan proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes!), Gauthier padded the lead on a power play at 10:12. Galiev fed the overage forward in the slot and his wrister found the back of the net for his eighth of the playoffs. Once again, Gagne found his name on the scoreseheet with his third assist of the evening.