The last time they met Erie won 12-5, but both clubs sound fairly confident that the record setting outcome won’t be replicated tonight in Windsor as the Erie Otters and Saint John Sea Dogs meet in the Mastercard Memorial Cup Semi-Final.
The winner will advance to Sunday’s Championship Final while the loser, a league champion, goes home.
“The beauty of this tournament is that we got to play the next day,” said Saint John forward Mathieu Joseph of his club’s rebound from the 12-5 humbling at the hands of Erie. “It was good for us to get back out there against Seattle and I think we bounced back pretty well.
“We have to take that first game against Erie away and think about the one coming up, focus on our systems and play Sea Dogs hockey.”
Saint John responded from Monday’s loss with a 7-0 blanking of the WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds as 17-year-old sophomore Joe Veleno led the way with two goals and an assist while goaltender Callum Booth recorded a 31-save shutout.
“We’ve had a week to adjust to the talent here,” Joseph continued. ” There are some really good teams in this tournament. We have a second chance now and we have to make the most of it.”
The OHL champion Erie Otters had some humble pie of their own after the record 12-goal output against Saint John, falling to the host Windsor Spitfires 4-2 on Wednesday to end a four game winning streak.
The Otters, who have suffered consecutive losses just twice since January 1st, are eager to turn the corner. They staved off elimination once in the OHL Playoffs, defeating the London Knights in seven games on Warren Foegele’s overtime winner.
“The stakes are a lot higher this time,” said captain Dylan Strome of his club’s second encounter with Saint John. “We’re both playing for our lives here.”
Despite the loss, the Otters feel good about the way they finished Wednesday’s game, outshooting Windsor 30-10 over the final two periods as they dictated the pace.
“I feel like we had a pretty good game after the first period,” said Strome. “If we didn’t have such a lapse in the first period I think we would have been pretty successful. We have to put that behind us, that game means nothing now and we’re focused on Saint John and what we have to do tonight.”
Though the Otters flexed their offensive muscles against Saint John earlier in the week, they’re confident the Sea Dogs will come out with a purpose in a must-win game for both sides.
“They’re going to be a different team,” said Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch. “We’re not scoring 12 goals. I won’t be surprised with it’s a 2-1 game.”
Erie’s power play went 5-for-7 against Saint John on Monday and leads the tournament at an overall mark of 7-for-13 (53.8%).
Otters forward Taylor Raddysh leads all players with nine points (3-6–9) over three games while brother Darren leads defence men in scoring with five points (2-3–5). Sea Dogs rookie Joe Veleno leads the Mastercard Memorial Cup in plus/minus with a rating of plus-5.
Both the Otters and Sea Dogs suffered Semi-Final losses in their last trip to the Mastercard Memorial Cup, with the Otters falling to the Victoriaville Tigres 5-4 in overtime in 2002. More recently, Saint John fell 7-4 to the eventual champion Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2012 Semi-Final.
The team that has scored first has won all six games to this point in the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Tonight’s 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT game will be aired across the country on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, in the United States on NHL Network and streaming online at CHLLive.ca.