Goalies love goalposts.
Goalies like Antoine Bibeau of the P.E.I. Rocket, who benefitted from a flurry of hit posts late in the third period against the Moncton Wildcats and came away with a 3-2 victory on Friday at the Civic Centre.
P.E.I. led 3-0 in the third period of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game on two scores by Alexis Pépin, including the eventual game-winner, and Ben Duffy’s 38th goal of the season.
Until Moncton’s James Melindy and Jacob Sweeney made it a suddenly tense 3-2 contest.
Then with Moncton’s goalie Cole Holowenko on the bench for an extra attacker, the Wildcats kept the pressure on. But Bibeau's steadiness and three straight post hits tempered the ‘Cats bite in front of appreciative announced crowd of 2,616.
“It happens some nights. When it happens we’re happy,’’ said Bibeau, who stopped 28 shots and improved to 27-11-2-1.
“We tried to keep things together (after the second Moncton goal). We had the momentum. We just had to (work) and let the clock go down.’’
P.E.I. upped its mark to 40-23-3-1, its first 40-win season since 2003-04, and sit seventh overall at 84 points with one game left in the regular season.
That’s Sunday versus the Saint John Sea Dogs at 3 p.m. at the CCC.
Moncton went to 41-23-2-1, good for fifth overall and tied with the Quebec Remparts with 85 points. On Sunday, Moncton faces the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in Bathurst while and Quebec hosts the Rimouski Océanic.
A P.E.I. win and Moncton and Quebec losses could move the Rocket into fifth place and a first-round matchup against the 12th-place Chicoutimi Saguenéens instead of its current potential playoff mate the 10th-place Val-d’Or Foreurs.
But that is a game away. On Friday, Pépin spurred the Rocket offence while notching his 16th and 17th goals in his rookie season.
“The win gives us a lot of confidence that was can win against the top teams in the league, because we’re one of them,’’ said Pépin. “We want to get higher in the standings and play a lower (ranked) team.’’
Holowenko played well while stopping 31 shots, but dropped to 10-8-1-1.
Duffy had the only power play goal of the game and is tied with Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin for the scoring title, each with 105 points.
Halifax plays the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Sunday to end the season.