Rimouski vs Saint John

After finishing first overall, the Sea Dogs appear poised for their first championship run since 2012. The Port City squad has many returnees from last year’s post-season, which ended with a semifinal setback to Shawinigan.

But major upgrades have been made since then.

The mid-season trade period saw the Sea Dogs acquire 19-year-old goalie Callum Booth from Quebec. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect finished with a league-leading .911 save percentage and his 31 wins tied for first with Shawinigan’s Mikhail Denisov.

Booth’s 2.59 goals-against average was fourth and his four shutouts tied him for second. Saint John’s major acquisition on defence was Simon Bourque from Rimouski. Bourque, who helped the Oceanic win the 2015 President Cup, finished with 56 points in 59 games.

The deep blueline also boasts Thomas Chabot, the MVP of this year’s world juniors as a member of Team Canada, along with Jakub Zboril, who played for the Czech Republic.

Up front, Saint John added another Team Canada player in Julien Gauthier (17-34-51), who helped Val-d’Or win the 2014 QMJHL championship. Team Canada teammate Mathieu Joseph (36-44-80) is dangerous in all situations, as his five short-handed goals would attest.

The balanced attack is led by team scoring leader Matthew Highmore (34-55-89), along with Spencer Smallman (30-49-79) and Bokondji Imama, who tallied a team-leading 41 goals in a 55-point season.

Sam Dove-McFalls was strong down the stretch to finish with 53 points, speedster Nathan Noel recorded 50 and sophomore Joe Veleno collected 40 in 45 games.

Rimouski’s offence revolves around 20-year-olds Tyler Boland and Dylan Montcalm. Boland tallied 48 goals and 103 points to finish second in the league’s scoring derby. Montcalm racked up 60 assists, good enough for second in the circuit. Saint John won both regular-season meetings.


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