AMHERST – The Moncton Wildcats scored two goals in less than 20 seconds less than a minute into the second period en route to a 3-0 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs in exhibition Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action at the Amherst Stadium on Friday.
Allain Saulnier broke a scoreless tie 34 seconds into the middle period with Alex Saulnier and Yannick Veilleux adding assists. It was Saulnier’s third goal of the preseason.
“We went with a veteran lineup and Saint John went without three or four of their top guys. I thought our goaltending was solid and we’re starting to come together as a team,” Wildcats’ head coach Danny Flynn said following the contest. “We just have to work on refining our game.”
Christophe Lalonde extended the lead to two goals 19 seconds later scoring his first of the exhibition season with Ross Johnston adding an assist.
James Melindy put the game out of reach 11:25 into the third period from Mitch Deruelle and Patrick Downe.
Alex Dubeau recorded the shutout stopping all 19 shots while Alex Fournier and Sebastien Auger sharing the goaltending duties for Saint John, facing 26 shots.
Attendance was 1,232.
Flynn said his players had to make an adjustment playing on a smaller ice surface than what they’re accustomed to, adding it the stadium was like playing in Fenway Park.
“It has its own character and nuances. That makes it a great part of the experience. The fans were good and the ice was good. I was pleased with how the game was presented,” he said.
Flynn said he will have to make some tough choices in the next few days. The club has been off the ice for a few days after going to CFB Gagetown to do some team building and he’s looking forward to getting to the regular season.
“There will be no easy games in this division this year. The coaching is so strong and everyone does such a great job getting the most out of their guys every night,” Flynn said. “Bathurst has a fine team and yes Saint John has lost some guys but they still have some outstanding players. P.E.I. was our nemesis last year and Cape Breton’s in the middle of their building program. Halifax is going to be very strong too.”
Flynn also touched on Wildcats’ draft choice and Amherst resident Josh Pugsley, who was in camp before being sent down to play for the Ramblers.
“He’s going to be a very good major players. He’s smart and competitive and wants to be a player. He needs to get some size, but he can play. We just felt he needed to take that middle step, get lots of minutes and play against older guys,” Flynn said. “We weighed the options of keeping him but as a 16 year old it’s important he gets key minutes and special team minutes as well as lots of game experience.”