Even the players thought the P.E.I Rocket’s 8-5 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs on Sunday at the Civic Centre was a weird game.
P.E.I.’s final Quebec Major Junior Hockey League contest of the regular season featured forward Ben Duffy notching five points and securing the league scoring title (110 points), linemate Josh Currie’s mad third period-rush for 50 goals (he finished with 49), five lead changes, five power-play goals, a pair of two-goal comebacks and a rare 3-on-3.
That scenario came after P.E.I.’s Patrick McGrath and Jack Nevins each received five-minute penalties and game-misconduct infractions stemming from a short melee second-period with Saint John’s Maxime Villemaire and Jurij Repe.
Repe was flagged for a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Sea Dogs forward Oliver Cooper was tagged for slashing.
P.E.I. scored twice on goals by Duffy and Louick Marcotte and made things 4-2.
“I told the ref that was first time I’d ever seen a full three-minute 3-on-3,’’ said Dogs captain Pierre Durepos. “But defensively we have to be better than that. We battled back and took the lead (5-4). Shows we still have some character in the room.’’
Staying with the theme, Marcotte scored his second goal of the afternoon and the eventual game-winner, to break a 5-5 tie.
It came off a face-off, wrist shot that beat Sea Dogs goalie Alex Fournier over his left shoulder, and was a play, said Marcotte, he’d worked on in practice.
“(The idea was) when I get it, just shoot it,’’ said Marcotte who’d finished third in team scoring with 27 goals and 54 points. “We were flat early, but toward the end we showed what we were about.’’
This all means the Rocket finished with a franchise-best 41-23-3-1 record, good for seventh overall and a first-round playoff date with the 10th-place Val-d’Or Foreurs (35-27-0-6).
That best-of-seven series is slated to start Friday with Games 1 and 2 at the Civic Centre.
Charlottetown native Josh Currie had a hat trick and finished third in the scoring race (104 points). Alexis Pépin and Victor Provencher had the other Rocket markers. Matej Beran had three assists for P.E.I.
Saint John finished 16th overall and had goals from Durepos (1-2), Jakub Izachy (1-1), Marcus Cuomo (1-1), Villemaire (1-1) and Clyde River native Jason Cameron.
As for Duffy, 20, he had a goal and four assists and finished the 2012-13 regular season as the franchise’s first overall scoring leader.
Picked fifth overall by P.E.I. in 2008, he is the team’s all-time scorer, the leader is career goals (139) and has played in 334 QMJHL games, all with P.E.I.
He almost had a fifth assist late in the third when he tried to set up Currie’s fourth goal, but the connection missed.
“I kind of feed him, but it just hopped over his stick,’’ said Duffy.
Still, Duffy isn’t focused on what happened, but what is about to happen when the Foreurs come to town.
P.E.I. lost to Val-d’Or 6-3 at the CCC and 6-5 in a shootout in Val-d’Or, which features the league’s top goal scorer in Anthony Mantha (50 goals) and Anton Zlobin, who had 91 points this season after potting the winning goal in Shawnigan’s victory over the London Knights in last year’s Memorial Cup.
“Val-d’Or’s a big physical team that will want to hit us. Currie and I have dealt with that all year and so far we’ve stayed ahead of it,’’ said Duffy. “As long as we’re out there working hard, things will go right with us.’’
Rocket goalie Antoine Bibeau stopped 35 shots and finished with a 30-15-1 record. Fourier, who was replaced with three minutes left in the third frame by Sébastien Auger, stopped 38 shots and ended the season with a 1-13 mark.