RIMOUSKI – Bokondji Imama scored twice and added an assist as the Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Rimouski Oceanic, 5-2, in Game 3 of their first round playoff series, Tuesday at Colisee Financiere Sun Life.
Matthew Highmore and Joe Veleno each had a goal and an assist for Saint John (3-0) while Jakub Zboril also found the net. Mathieu Joseph contributed three assists.
Denis Mikhnin and former Sea Dog Nico Blachman replied for Rimouski (0-3).
Saint John lead the best-of-seven series, 3-0.
The Sea Dogs established a new team record with only twelve shots allowed in the game.
Zboril got Saint John on the board first with a power play goal halfway through the first period.
The Czech blueliner, who missed the first two games of the series due to injury, carried the puck into the left circle. His pass into the slot deflected off the leg of Rimouski forward Samuel Laberge and past goalie Alexandre Lagace.
Mikhnin tied it 82 seconds later after a turnover in the Sea Dogs’ zone.
The Russian forward intercepted a pass in the right circle, cut across the slot and wristed a low shot past a sprawling Callum Booth in the Saint John goal.
Imama gave the Sea Dogs the lead nearly six minutes into the second.
The overager took a pass from Joseph on the left side of the neutral zone and raced in on the wing, ripping a long wrist shot that beat Lagace over his blocker.
Saint John’s regular season leading scorer made it 3-1 a short time later.
Highmore drove the net from the left side and took a pass from Joseph. As he tried to put it over Lagace, the goaltender poked it off his stick. But the puck jumped over Lagace’s shoulder and bounced across the line.
Blachman stung his old team two minutes into the third period to cut the Oceanic’s deficit to 3-2.
The Florida-native picked up a loose puck on the right wing side of the net and banked a shot off of Booth and inside the left post.
But Veleno restored the two-goal advantage more than six minutes later.
On a faceoff win in the right circle, the puck went over to the left point. Thomas Chabot snapped a high wrist shot that went off of Lagace’s glove and dropped down at the top of the crease. Veleno fired the rebound into a wide-open net to make it 4-2.
Imama wrapped up the scoring twenty-five seconds after that.
Chabot took a pass on the left side of the slot and was hooked before he could shoot. The puck slid to the right side of the crease where Imama knifed a backhander inside the left post.
Booth made ten saves to earn the win. Lagace took the loss with 33 stops.
Joseph earned first star with three assists, Mikhnin was named second star with one goal. Imama’s three-point game made him third star in front of 2,644 fans in attendance.
Game 4 is Wednesday, March 29th, at 8:30 p.m. at Colisee Financiere Sun Life. Saint John would advance to the second round with a victory.
Written by Tim Roszell