RIMOUSKI – Simon Bourque’s goal with 3:18 left in the third period turned into the series-winner, as the Saint John Sea Dogs came from behind to defeat the Rimouski Oceanic, 4-3, Wednesday at Colisee Financiere Sun Life.
Bourque, the former Rimouski captain, fired a shot from the right point that bounced off the end boards to the side of the net, where it deflected off goalie Charles-Oliver Levesque and skipped across the goal line.
The Sea Dogs won the best-of-seven first-round series, 4-0.
Thomas Chabot led the offence with a goal and two assists for Saint John (4-0), while Matthew Highmore added a goal and an assist. Kyle Ward had the other goal.
Carson MacKinnon, Samuel Laberge and Alex-Olivier Voyer scored for Rimouski (0-4)
Rimouski netted a shorthanded goal to open the scoring nearly six minutes into the game.
MacKinnon carried the puck on the left side during a 2-on-1. His long shot went off the glove of goalie Callum Booth and dropped to his right. MacKinnon slipped his own rebound into an open net.
Chabot responded with a power play goal with under five minutes remaining in the period.
Captain Spencer Smallman took a pass on the left side of the Oceanic zone and feathered it into the slot for Chabot, who whipped a heavy wrist shot past the glove of Levesque.
Booth made sure the game stayed tied 1-1 with an impressive stop on another shorthanded chance for the home team halfway through the game.
Tyler Boland, the QMJHL’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, stole the puck at his own blueline and broke away. He attempted to put the puck through Booth’s legs, but the goaltender used his left pad to stone the overage forward.
Rimouski did grab the lead again with under seven minutes left in the period when, during a delayed penalty, Boland picked up a loose puck to the left side of the crease and found Laberge open in front of the net for a tap-in.
Ward got the Sea Dogs back on even terms nearly two minutes later.
The 19-year-old winger carried the puck on the left side and whistled a wrist shot that beat Levesque high on the short side, over his blocker.
But Voyer made it a 3-2 game for the Oceanic just over a minute after that, finishing off a turnover in the Sea Dogs’ zone with a wrister over Booth’s glove.
Despite extended periods of offensive pressure, Saint John trailed until there were under nine minutes remaining.
Chabot sent a shot from the right point that was tipped on goal. Mathieu Joseph slid a pass between Levesque and the left post, into the crease, where Highmore deposited the puck into an open net.
That set the stage for Bourque’s storybook ending in the building he called home for three-and-a-half seasons.
The Montreal Canadiens’ prospect, who won a President Cup with Rimouski in 2015, scored his first goal of the playoffs to eliminate his old team.
Saint John killed off a late penalty and got a key, defensive-zone faceoff win with 3.8 seconds left to secure the victory.
Booth got the win with 13 saves. Levesque made 43 stops in the loss. He was named first star.
Chabot took second star with three points. Boland got third star with two assists in front of 2,726 fans in attendance.
The Sea Dogs do not know their opponent in the second round, but Game 1 of the series will be Friday, April 7th, at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station.
Written by Tim Roszell