It’s not often that a Calgary-born goaltender steals the show for a Québec league team loaded with offensive superstars. Memorial Cup veteran Jacob DeSerres opened up play in the Memorial Cup with a spectacular third period performance for the Saint John Sea Dogs as the QMJHL Champion club hung on for a 4-3 victory in the opener of the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup Friday night.
In front of a sell-out crowd against the host Mississauga-St. Michaels Majors, the Sea Dogs had an attack led by veteran Mark Kirkpatrick and top prospect Jonathan Huberdeau to take the win and the 1-0 record. Despite outchancing the Sea Dogs and a spectacular game from New York Islanders prospect Casey Cizikas, a couple of big saves by DeSerres (and three posts) turned out to be the difference.
“It’s my job as a goalie to come up with those big saves,” DeSerres told reporters after the game. “Everyone has their roles on the team”.
DeSerres, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect, was shelled in last year’s Memorial Cup Final as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings against the Windsor Spitfires. Justin Shugg and Marc Cantin, two players on that Spitfires team were traded to Mississauga.
“Those were definitely I noticed,” said DeSerres. “It was nice to beat them, but those are just little things.”
“He made some huge saves, there’s no doubt about that,” said Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant. “He made two or three big saves with his pads when we thought they had open nets.”
“He was probably the difference for us tonight.”
DeSerres allowed two goals to Cizikas, who was buzzing all night, and a beautiful deflection goal to Devante Smith-Pelley. Tomas Jurco opened the tournament scoring for Saint John off a counter-attack breakaway. The Sea Dogs also got goals from Kirkpatrick and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. They also got a first period powerplay goal from Huberdeau which was one of the uglier he’ll score in his career. A Kirkpatrick shot hit him in the leg and bounced in past Anderson.
While DeSerres was brilliant with 24 saves, the game story could have been that of a goaltender’s duel, (counterpart JP Anderson was stellar in his own right for the Majors, with 27 saves) but the focus will land on some key penalties taken by players of both teams. The teams combined for 23 minor penalties, and 13 in the third period alone. Saint John was 3/8 on the powerplay and the Dogs 2/7, although both teams failed to convert on lengthy 5-on-3 opportunities.
“We lost our composure, there’s no doubt about that,” said Majors head coach Dave Cameron, who was visibly agitated at the officials twice in the game, once after a blown offside call that led to the eventual winning goal.”As the games take on more meaning, there’s more emotion and you have to walk that fine line.”
Replay cameras showed that Sea Dogs centreman Zack Phillips was a foot ahead of the blue line on zone entry, right in front of the official. Cameron confirmed after the game that he thought the call was missed, but added that “mistakes happen, and I’ve made a few myself.”
1: Jacob DeSerres, SJ
2: Jonathan Huberdeau, SJ
3: Casey Cizikas, MISS