December 31, 2009 - Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) - Saint John Sea Dogs
MONCTON, NB --- Marco Cousineau's Saint John Sea Dogs debut proved to be a memorable affair. One day after being acquired from the P.E.I. Rocket, the overage goaltender backstopped his new team to a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory over the Wildcats at the Moncton Coliseum on the final night of the decade.
After falling behind 3-1 over the course of the opening forty minutes of play, the Port City's major junior squad charged back valiantly in the third period. The visitors netted two unanswered goals while outshooting their opponents 15-3 in sending the match to extra time.
The overtime period solved nothing, forcing a decisive shootout from which Saint John emerged victorious. After making 22 saves in regulation and OT, Cousineau went 2-for-2 in the post-OT penalty shot showdown to make his first decision as a Sea Dog a WIN.
Reigning QMJHL Most Valuable Player Nicola Riopel, meanwhile, suffered his first defeat since being reassigned to the Wildcats by the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) two weeks ago. The 20-year old net minder made 31 saves in a losing effort.
Yann Sauvé, Nick Petersen, and Danick Gauthier scored in regulation for the Sea Dogs in Thursday's road win, with Nicolas Deschamps, Daniel Petterson, and Marek Hrivik responding for the Wildcats.
Saint John's league-best record now stands at 34-6-1-0 while Moncton falls to 23-11-1-3. These two teams will meet again on Saturday night at Harbour Station (puck drop: 7pm)
After an intensely-competitive opening 19 minutes of play failed to produce a goal at either end of the ice, a crease-hovering Nicolas Deschamps fired a loose puck past Cousineau to make the 21st goal of his season of the power play variety.
The Sea Dogs pulled even on a man-up marker of their own five minutes into the second period when superstar sniper Nick Petersen buried a rebound produced by a booming Simon Després one-timer. Michael Kirkpatrick also picked up an assist on the successful scoring play.
Marco Cousineau came up huge for Saint John a moment later, stoning Devon MacAusland and Scott Trask in rapid succession shortly after the Wildcats had charged into Saint John's zone on an odd-man rush. The recently-acquired goalie's efforts kept the score tied at 1-1 as Thursday's match reached its midway point.
Moncton went ahead 2-1 on a goal by Daniel Petterson at the 16:30 mark of the middle frame. The sophomore centre finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play by roofing a wrist shot past Cousineau's glove to pick up his 12th offensive strike of the year during a 5-on-3 power play. The Wildcats struck again with the man-advantage 1:17 later, with Marek Hrivik wiring a wrist shot to the back of the Sea Dogs' net at the end of a lengthy scramble in Saint John territory.
Danick Gauthier pulled the Sea Dogs to within immediate striking distance of their opponents early in period number three, beating Riopel through the five-hole on a long-range wrist shot that deflected in off of a Moncton defender. Gauthier's goal, his tenth of the year, made the score 3-2 in the hosts' favour with over 18 minutes remaining in regulation.
Vancouver Canucks prospect Yann Sauvé then netted the tying goal for the Sea Dogs in the 55th minute of play, hammering a slap shot past Riopel to improve his 2009-10 goals total to five. Nicholas Pard came close to scoring the go-ahead goal for Saint John a minute later, but the 19-year old winger was denied on a nice pad save by Riopel.
The Sea Dogs' star goalie then came up with a clutch pad save of his own, as Cousineau robbed a net-charging Alex Saulnier late in the third period to send Thursday's contest into overtime. The extra frame solved nothing, necessitating a winner-take-all breakaway contest.
Mike Hoffman and Tomas Jurco both scored for Saint John in the shootout, while the Saulnier twins came up empty for Moncton. Cousineau denied the talented siblings to deliver his new team a come-from-behind road win.
Tickets to Saturday's Sea Dogs - Wildcats game are available online at www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.