Smallman’s hat trick helps Sea Dogs take game 1
Spencer Smallman buried a hat trick and sixteen skaters earned at least one point as the Saint John Sea Dogs upended the Rimouski Oceanic 9-2, in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, Friday at Harbour Station.
Mathieu Joseph also scored twice for Saint John while Cole Reginato and Joe Veleno each added a goal and an assist. Julien Gauthier and Kyle Ward had a goal apiece.
Alexandre Grise posted a goal and an assist for Rimouski while Denis Mikhnin also found the net.
The Sea Dogs have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Saint John scored the opening goal nearly seven minutes into the game.
A point shot by Simon Bourque was tipped by Matthew Highmore and did not make it to the net. Joseph grabbed the loose puck near the left wing side of the crease and rifled a wrister past the blocker of Alexandre Lagace in the Rimouski goal.
Reginato made it 2-0 just over a minute later, picking up the rebound of a Veleno wraparound attempt and spinning it past the right leg of Lagace, inside the right post.
Veleno added to the Sea Dogs’ lead with about nine minutes left in the period.
Lagace went behind his net to play a shoot-in and turned it over to Reginato. The 19-year-old winger threw it in front of an empty net where Veleno was able to rip it home before Lagace could return to the crease.
The Oceanic got on the board with six minutes remaining in the frame when Mikhnin drove the front of the net and deflected a pass beyond the glove of Callum Booth.
Smallman restored the three-goal lead 85 seconds after that.
The captain skated through the middle of the slot, reached back and redirected a Bailey Webster point shot past Lagace to make it 4-1.
Jimmy Lemay replaced Lagace in the Oceanic goal to start the second period.
Ward added to Saint John’s advantage three-and-a-half minutes into the second period.
The second-year-winger drove the net without the puck and tipped home a perfect pass from Thomas Chabot in the right circle.
Fifty seconds later, Smallman’s second goal made it a 6-1 game.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect took a pass in the high slot, turned and blasted a low slap shot that beat Lemay on his stick side.
Grise cut the Oceanic deficit down to four a couple of minutes after that, as he carried the puck down the right wing on a 2-on-1 and beat Booth with a shot through the goalie’s legs.
The Sea Dogs scored three goals in the second half of the third period.
With about eight minutes left, Joseph finished off a Matthew Highmore feed on a 2-on-0 for a shorthanded goal.
Two minutes later, Gauthier grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, danced through a pair of Rimouski defenders and slid it between Lemay’s legs.
Smallman completed his hat trick with under three minutes remaining, tapping in a cross-crease pass from Nathan Noel in the left corner.
Booth earned the win with 22 saves. Lagace took the loss with nine stops in twenty minutes. Lemay made 22 saves in forty minutes of relief work.
Game 2 is Saturday, March 25th, at 7:00 pm at Harbour Station. Tickets are available at the Harbour Station Box Office or fans can save money and buy online.