VAL-D’OR, QC – The Saint John Sea Dogs have advanced to the President Cup semifinals after a 7-1 victory over the Val-d’Or Foreurs in Game 4 of the quarterfinals, Wednesday at Centre Air Creebec.
Spencer Smallman led the offence for Saint John with a hat trick while Simon Bourque added a goal and three assists. Joe Veleno scored twice and Julien Gauthier had the other.
Charley Graaskamp responded for Val-d’Or.
The Sea Dogs swept the best-of-seven series, 4-0. It’s the team’s sixth berth in the semifinals in twelve seasons.
Saint John scored the opening goal just 1:45 into the game when Bourque blasted a one-timer from the right point that squeezed through the right side of goalie Etienne Montpetit’s equipment and dropped into the crease. Veleno knifed the loose puck into an open net to give Saint John an early lead.
Bourque doubled the advantage 67 seconds later.
Matthew Highmore took a pass behind the net, stepped toward the left corner and fed a pass into the circle. Bourque whistled a one-timer past Montpetit’s glove.
The Sea Dogs struck on the power play with seven minutes left in the period to take a 3-0 lead.
Mathieu Joseph fed a pass from the right boards to Highmore near the right side of the crease. The overage centre saw Smallman streaking in from the left point and hit him with a cross-crease pass for a snap shot past a helpless Montpetit.
The Foreurs got one back in the final minute of the period when Graaskamp saw the rebound of a blocked shot in front of the goal, fished it out of some skates and ripped a quick wrist shot past the blocker of Callum Booth.
Saint John poured on the offence in the second.
Gauthier, the former Foreurs star, got things started with a goal 1:29 into the period.
Bourque snapped a low shot from the right point that kicked out to Gauthier on the left side of the crease. The 2016 first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes chipped the rebound past a helpless Montpetit.
Smallman got his second goal with seven minutes to go in the period when Gauthier rifled a wrist shot from the slot that the captain deflected past Montpetit to make it a 5-1 game.
Veleno added his second of the night with two minutes left in the period.
On a faceoff win in the left circle, Veleno picked up the puck near the goal line and flipped a quick wrist shot under Montpetit’s blocker.
Smallman completed his hat trick early in the third period.
The fifth-year Sea Dog drove to the net without the puck and potted the rebound of a shot from the right point by Thomas Chabot.
Booth made 18 saves to earn the win. Montpetit made 38 stops in a losing cause. He was named the game’s first star.
The second and third stars were awarded to the Foreurs’ two graduating overage players, Alexis Pepin and Graaskamp, respectively.
Saint John’s schedule and opponent for its third-round series are not yet known. Monitor sjseadogs.com for all the latest information.
All Sea Dogs playoff games are broadcast LIVE on 96.1 NewSong FM and newsongfm.ca. Webcasts are also available through Neulion.
Written by Tim Roszell