Top-prospect Huberdeau wins it for the Sea Dogs in OT thriller

If it had gone the other way, defenseman Jesse Blacker may not have called his teammates “passengers” or been so hard on himself.

After all, when your team wins, there’s a team effort. When your team loses, you can point the finger at a number of different guys who could have stepped their game up. That’s fair. When the game is an open-ice game with a frantic pace and plenty of scoring chances at either end, there’s no use hanging your head in shame. It can go either way.

Blacker’s Owen Sound Attack came out losing 3-2 in overtime. The victors, the offensively gifted Saint John Sea Dogs, caught a break when Blacker inadvertedly turned the puck over to Michael Kirkpatrick, who set up Sea Dog phenom Jonathan Huberdeau and he made no mistake with a hard wrist shot beating Attack goalie Jordan Binnington.

It was Huberdeau’s second of the tournament and sent the Sea Dogs to the MasterCard Memorial Cup Final on Sunday. The Attack drop to 1-1, but can clinch a semi-final berth with a win Wednesday.

“When I got the puck, I just shoot it,” said an elated Huberdeau (French being the St. Jérome, QC native’s first language) post-game. “I thought I missed it.”

Again, neither team should hang their head. It was a lucky bounce that allowed the play to develop, and any other bounce would have given the Attack the win. Owen Sound had 35 chances to 32 for the Sea Dogs. But the difference between relief and blame was about ten feet in a makeshift media room at the Hershey Centre. On the other side of the small concourse, “we got nothing for it,” and the end result was “a pretty bitter feeling”, quotes courtesy of Garrett Wilson and Blacker, who played without star forward Joey Hishon, out for precautionary reasons after perhaps sustaining a concussion in the last game.

Binnington, spectacular for the second straight game, stopping 41 of 44 pucks, wasn’t lying when he said he thought his team “deserved a little bit of a better outcome” even though he “just went down a little early and the guy put it upstairs and popped off the water bottle.”

He said a fast-paced game was a little better for the goalie because the traffic and shots to the net just keep on coming. Him and counterpart Jacob DeSerres were, fittingly, spectacular on a night began with a moment of silence for fallen 15-year old goaltender prospect Ian Jenkins.

DeSerres made 47 saves, 11 in overtime, and picked up his second win of the tournament. “It was probably a 6-5 game for somebody” said Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant after the game. “The goaltending was outstanding and there were some great offensive chances both ways.”

The game wasn’t replete of breakdowns and giveaways, but neither team gave way much defensively. Chances came, but were earned by the offensive starts rather than given up. It was a chess match between Deep Blue and Gary Kasparov, and most in the media section were on their feet through the third period on.

Really, hang your head only to take a sustained bow. Win or lose, you put on one hell of a show. Play like this, and a rematch against the Dogs in Sunday’s Final is to be expected.

Three Stars

1: Jacob DeSerres, Saint John
2: Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound
3: Tomas Jurco, Saint John