Sea Dogs clinch first overall with shutout win in Moncton

Saint John, Sea Dogs

The Saint John Sea Dogs have clinched first overall in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a 5-0 victory over the Moncton Wildcats, Wednesday at Moncton Coliseum.

It’s the fourth Jean-Rougeau Trophy in franchise history, and the first since 2012. Finishing in top spot ensures the Sea Dogs will have home ice advantage throughout the 2017 playoffs.

Saint John also earned a fifth Maritimes Division crown and reached one hundred points for the fourth time.

Spencer Smallman scored two shorthanded goals to lead the Saint John (47-13-5-1) offence while Mathieu Joseph and Chase Stewart added a goal and an assist each. Matthew Highmore also found the net.

Callum Booth earned a shutout win with 17 saves.

Moncton (14-49-2-1) have lost seven straight games.

Joseph opened the scoring only 45 seconds into the game.

Thomas Chabot carried the puck down the left wing side, and his pass to a streaking Joseph deflected past goalie Matthew Waite off of the forward’s skate.

The assist for Chabot made him the Sea Dogs’ all-time leading scorer among defencemen at 153 points, breaking a tie with Nathan Beaulieu.

Saint John doubled its lead on a strange play with seven minutes left in the second period.

Joe Veleno charged from the right corner to the front of the net and lost the puck. A Moncton back-checker got tangled up with Waite and accidentally dragged him to his right, away from the front of the goal. The puck went back to the middle of the blueline where Stewart slid a shot along the ice into a wide-open net.

Smallman added a shorthanded marker with more than two minutes remaining in the period.

Jakub Zboril forced a turnover in his own zone and carried the puck through the neutral zone, creating a 2-on-1. The Czech blueliner fed a pass from the left side to a streaking Smallman, who smacked it through Waite’s legs.

The Sea Dogs thought they had made it 4-0 halfway through the third period when Cole Reginato buried a tap-in from the left side of the Wildcats’ crease, but the play was reviewed and ruled to be offside when the puck entered the Moncton zone.

Highmore did get the fourth Sea Dog goal on a two-man advantage with six minutes left, finishing off a pretty passing play with a wrister from the middle of the slot that got past a sprawling Waite.

Smallman wrapped up the scoring with another shorthanded marker late in the game, pounding home the rebound of a Nathan Noel shot from the left circle.

Waite made 42 saves in a losing cause.

Joseph’s two points made him first star while Zboril took second star with two assists and a +3 rating. Smallman snared third star with his two goals and a +3 rating in front of 5,005 fans in attendance.

Saint John’s next game is Friday, March 17th, at 7:00 pm against the Charlottetown Islanders at Eastlink Centre.

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