Saint John Sea Dogs

Sea Dogs Fall Short In Home Opener

September 21, 2007 - Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)
Saint John Sea Dogs News Release

SAINT JOHN, NB --- On the strength of a 26-save performance from 16-year old goaltender Olivier Bellevance-Roy and a hat trick from Jonathan Laberge, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 6-1 on Friday night, ruining an evening that had begun with an unabashed exuberance that bordered upon fervour, as hockey fans in south western New Brunswick flocked to Harbour Station for the start of what many predict will be a seminal campaign for Port City's major junior team.

With both spirits and expectations high as the team took to the ice for the first time this season in their home venue, the Sea Dogs played well in spurts throughout Friday night's contest, but ultimately fell short against the East Division's second-place finishers from a year ago.

Special teams proved to be a deciding factor on Friday night, as Cape Breton converted on four of eight power play opportunities while the Sea Dogs went 0-for-seven with the man advantage.

Assistant Coach Jim Midgley was less than thrilled with the result of Friday night's match.

"This was a very disappointing way to open our home schedule," said Midgley following the five-goal defeat. "The best thing for us now is to put this behind us and focus on Lewiston. That's what playing at this level is all about - taking what you can from losses and moving on to the next game. I think you'll see a much more competitive game on Sunday at Harbour Station."

The Sea Dogs got the first scoring chance of the game on Friday, with Keven Charland and Alexandre Leduc each getting off shots from close range near the six minute mark of the opening frame; Bellevance-Roy was sharp early however, turning aside both attempts to keep the home team off the scoreboard.

Sea Dogs goalie Robert Mayer's first big test came in the form of a solid wrist shot off the stick of Nicholas Choinard, who unleashed a rocket while speeding down the wing that Saint John's net minder managed to impede the progress of by virtue of an impressive exhibition of reflexology.

The Sea Dogs were then awarded a 5-on-3 power play chance with twelve minutes remaining in the first, but were unable to beat Roy on any of their four shots.

As Jonathan Laberge exited the penalty box at the conclusion of the Sea Dogs' double man-up tenure, he was sprung on a semi-breakaway by Dean Outlett; Laberge made no mistake on his one-man rush, beating Mayer with a hard shot to the blocker side to give the visiting squad from northern Nova Scotia a 1-0 lead at the 10:10 mark of the game.

Laberge's tally proved to be the lone goal of the opening twenty, and Cape Breton entered the first intermission with a one-goal advantage despite having been outpaced on the shot clock to the tune of 13-6.

It didn't take long for the Sea Dogs to produce the equalizer in the second period, with Ryan Sparling finding the back of the net 0:31 into the frame to make the score 1-1 as Payton Liske and Chris DiDomenico each earned assists on the first home goal of the year for Saint John.

Cape Breton reacquired the lead soon thereafter however, as, on the power play, Kyle Mariana wired a one-timer past Mayer.

Mayer then made a trio of huge saves near the midway point of the second period, stoning three consecutive Cape Breton shooters in dynamic fashion to keep his team within immediate striking distance of the Screaming Eagles' lead.

Cape Breton doubled their advantage with 2:31 remaining in the middle frame, as Laberge registered his second tally of the night, this time on the power play as the visitors continued to dominate Friday's special teams battle.

The third period opened with another man-up tally by the Screaming Eagles, with Kyle Mariani scoring his second of the night to make the score 4-1 in Cape Breton's favour with a hard, high shot that eluded Mayer's glove and found the back of the Saint John net at the 1:34 mark of regulation's final frame. Nick MacNeil added a power play goal of his own later on in the third, and an even-strength tally by Jonathan Laberge both put the finishing touches on a hat trick for the former Sea Dog and put the Screaming Eagle up by five with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

With 1:15 remaining in the game, the never-say-die spirit of the new and improved 2007-08 Sea Dogs manifested itself in the form of an extremely one-sided bout between Saint John's Mike Thomas and Cape Breton's Olivier Dame-Malka, with Thomas landing a series of blows that struck his opponent with awesome lethality as the thousands of die-hard fans still in attendance rose to their feet to applaud the effort of #17.

Up next for the Sea Dogs is another home game, this time versus the Lewiston MAINEiacs. Saint John hits the ice against the defending President's Cup Champions on Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm.

• Discuss this story on the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League message board...

Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League Stories from September 21, 2007

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Saint John Sea Dogs Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central