Bokondji Imama scored 38 seconds into the third period to lift the Saint John Sea Dogs to a 2-1 victory over the Halifax Mooseheads on Sunday afternoon in the New Brunswick port city.
The win was the first in three tries for the Sea Dogs against the Mooseheads this season.
Halifax had dumped Saint John 4-1 at Scotiabank Centre on Saturday afternoon.
In another Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game, played at Bathurst, the hometown Titan edged the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-3.
At Harbour Station in Saint John, Imama blasted a slap shot high past rookie goaltender Alexis Gravel for his 27th goal of the season and the Sea Dogs held off the Mooseheads the rest of the way for the win.
Maxime Fortier had tied the score at 10:49 of the second period, batting the puck from the slot past goalie Callum Booth. It was Fortier’s 22nd goal of the season.
Samuel Dove-McFalls opened the scoring at 2:45 of the first period on a shorthanded breakaway. It was fitting that the Sea Dogs should score when they were a man short because the team has been understaffed in all three games against the Mooseheads. During both weekend games, the Sea Dogs played without three key contributors in Canada’s silver medal performance at the recently completed world junior hockey championship. Defenceman Thomas Chabot, the world junior tournament MVP, and wingers Matthieu Joseph and the newly acquired Julien Gauthier were all scratched from the Sea Dogs’ lineup for both games.
When the Mooseheads clipped the Sea Dogs 4-3 in their Sept. 24 home opener, Saint John was playing without several stars who were attending National Hockey League training camps.
Nico Hischier, the Moosheads’ 18-year-old star centre who was a integral part of the Swiss team at the world junior tournament, did not play Sunday. He played in the home game Saturday and is expected to return to the lineup when the Mooseheads host the Charlottetown Islanders on Wednesday.
Despite missing key personnel, the Sea Dogs outshot the Mooseheads 34-24 on Sunday to follow up on a 47-17 shot advantage in the loss at Halifax on Saturday. The Sea Dogs’ inability to score on 12 weekend power plays may have been a result of the players who did not dress.
The Mooseheads fell to 18-19-1-2 with the loss while the Sea Dogs, touted as potential league champion before the season began, improved to 25-11-3.
The game was played in front of 3,881 fans at Harbour Station, where a previous matchup between the two teams scheduled for Dec. 16 was postponed because of bad weather.
At Bathurst, the Titan got goals from Vladimir Kuznetsov, Zachary Malatesta, Jeffrey Truchon-Viel and Noah Dobson.
Giovanni Fiore, with his 32nd of the year, Drake Batherson and Declan Smith replied for Cape Breton. Fiore also added an assist.
The Eagles could not overcome a 3-1 first-period deficit that had the Titan holding a 17-10 shot advantage. Cape Breton finished with 39 shots on Acadie-Bathurst goaltender Anthony Dumont-Bouchard.
Eagles goalie Kyle Jessiman faced 34 shots. Both teams had two unsuccessful power-play opportunities.
The loss dropped Cape Breton’s record to 23-15-2-1 for 49 points, three ahead of Acadie-Bathurst.