The Saint John Sea Dogs scored seven unanswered goals beginning late in the second period, on their way to a 7-2, come-from-behind victory over the Moncton Wildcats Friday at the Moncton Coliseum.
Bokondji Imama paced the offence with a hat trick for Saint John (23-8-3-1). Joe Veleno, Ian Smallwood, Kyle Ward and Cole Reginato also found the net.
Liam Murphy and Simon Le Coultre replied for Moncton (13-22-0-0). The Wildcats scored the only goal of the first period on a power play halfway through the frame. Murphy took a pass in the middle of the slot and ripped a wrist shot over the blocker hand of goalie Alex D’Orio. Moncton made it 2-0 seven minutes into the second when Le Coultre, parked in the left circle, buried the rebound of a point shot from fellow defenceman Francis Thibeault.
The Sea Dogs cut their deficit in half with four minutes left in the period. Imama took a short pass inside his own blueline and charged ahead toward open ice. Using his body to shield the puck, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect broke in alone and deked to his backhand, tucking it between the legs of Moncton netminder Matthew Waite. Two minutes later, the overager struck again. With Saint John enjoying a five-minute power play, Nathan Noel threw a pass from the left boards into the slot where Imama rifled a wrist shot past Waite to tie the game at 2-2. The Sea Dogs carried that momentum into the third, and took the lead nearly five minutes into the final period. On a power play, captain Spencer Smallman hammered a shot from the left side that Veleno deflected past Waite to make it a 3-2 game. Nearly three minutes later, Smallwood pounced on a big rebound that went to the blueline and sent a one-timer past Waite’s blocker for his first QMJHL goal. Imama completed his third hat trick of the season with under eight minutes to go. Samuel Leblanc led a 2-on-1 on the left side of the Wildcats’ zone. The rookie forward sent a pass across the slot to Imama who potted a hard wrister beyond the blocker of Waite. A little over a minute later, Ward received a pass in the slot and whistled a hard wrister past Waite’s stick to create a 6-2 score. The Sackville-native set up the seventh consecutive goal 58 seconds after that, blasting a slap shot from the blueline that created a rebound goal for Reginato.
D’Orio made 19 stops to earn the win. Waite suffered the loss with 34 saves.
Imama’s hat trick made him first star while Alexandre Bernier was named second star with two assists. Le Coultre grabbed third star with one goal in front of 4,254 fans in attendance.
Saint John’s next game is Saturday, December 31st, at 2 p.m. against Acadie-Bathurst. Tickets are available at the Harbour Station Box Office, or fans can save money and buy online. More than 4,800 tickets have already been sold.