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The Saint John Sea Dogs beat the Victoriaville Tigres 6-2 Sunday in a highly entertaining, physical affair between two competitive rivals.
The Tigres had topped Saint John 7-0 in Victoriaville last weekend to add another chapter to the rivalry that has seen the Dogs eliminate them in the past two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Sea Dogs responded with an inspired effort Sunday, led by first star Jonathan Huberdeau, who enjoyed his second multi-point game in as many nights, scoring a goal and adding two assists. Second star Ryan Tesink scored twice, while Zack Phillips, Nathan Beaulieu and third star Charles Roussel tallied a goal and an assist each. Stephen MacAulay chipped in two assists and Mathieu Corbeil made 25 saves for the win.
Stefan Fournier and Pierre-Luc Pelletier scored for the Tigres and David Honzik made 27 saves in the loss
The win was Saint John's fifth straight at home, as the Sea Dogs improved to 7-4, while Victoriaville fell to 8-4.
The Dogs opened the scoring on a 4-on-4 at 5:39 of the first period. Roussel made a nice move to cut in from the right point and around a defender, then ripped a wrist shot off the crossbar that bounced right to Huberdeau for his first of the year. Phillips recorded the other assist.
Beaulieu, who was in the box during the 4-on-4, jumped out just in time to join the play and tuck in a rebound to make it 2-0 at 7:32. Danick Gauthier and Tomas Jurco assisted on the goal, Beaulieu's second of the season.
Roussel, the 20-year-old defenceman who made his Sea Dogs debut Saturday, gave the crowd a taste of his open-ice hitting ability on the following shift, levelling Francois Godin in the defensive zone to set up a chance for Gauthier at the other end. Gauthier tangled with Victoriaville captain Phillip Danault with eight minutes to go in the first, one of two fights in the frame, and three on the night.
Huberdeau had a chance short-handed on 3-on-1 with less than three minutes to go, but lost the handle. Fournier scored later in the power play, at 17:54, to cut the lead in half. Beaulieu and Tigres scoring leader Yanni Gourde then engaged in fisticuffs at centre ice with 90 seconds to go in the opening frame.
Phillips had a chance to restore the two-goal margin in the first minute of the second period, ripping a wrist shot off the post from low in the left-wing circle. He would not be denied a few minutes later, however, as he dangled to his forehand in tight and roofed a shot to Honzik's glove side to make it 3-1. Huberdeau had the lone assist on the goal, the fourth of the year for Phillips.
The posts were a magnet for Sea Dogs shots on this afternoon, as Pierre Durepos fired a wrist shot off the iron shortly after the Phillips goal. Saint John then faced a tough test, as Ian Saab was ejected for boarding and fighting Simon Darveau, leaving his teammates to kill a full seven-minute power play.
The Dogs didn't just survive the penalty kill, they thrived, with Huberdeau feeding Tesink a beautiful backhand saucer pass to set up a short-handed goal at 7:31. Kevin Gagne picked up the other assist. The great penalty killing continued, including big shot blocks by Tesink and Jason Cameron, and many in the crowd of 3,141 gave their team a standing ovation for the outstanding effort.
Victoriaville cut the lead to 4-2 at 17:54 of the second. Corbeil appeared to have the puck frozen, but there was no whistle, and Pelletier was allowed to knock it in as the goaltender lifted his glove.
Corbeil came up with a huge save early in the third, stopping Vincent Marcoux from point-blank range. On the same shift, the Dogs went the other way and scored, with Beaulieu unloading a low shot from the left point that Tesink got a piece of to make it 5-2. MacAulay picked up the other assist on the goal, Tesink's second of the night and third of the season. Roussel rounded out the scoring with his second in as many nights at 18:02 of the final frame, with assists from MacAulay and Pierre Durepos.