Saint John Sea Dogs rookie center Ryan Tesink
tries to model his game after Chicago Blackhawks
captain Jonathan Toews
. What promising young hockey player wouldn't?
But it's one thing to emulate the style of a player and another to showcase some on-ice dramatics reminiscent of that player as well, particularly when the game is on the line. The young Tesink, who is eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25, did just that on Wednesday when he ended the longest game in the history of the President's Cup Finals.
Tesink's goal at 19:16 of the second overtime gave the Sea Dogs a 4-3 victory over the Gatineau Olmpiques in Game 4 of their best-of-7 series in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship round. The Sea Dogs, which now lead the series, 3-1, have a chance to win their first-ever QMJHL championship on home ice in Game 5 on Friday in a sold-out Harbour Station.
Tesink is one of nine players from the Sea Dogs rated among the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the upcoming draft by NHL Central Scouting. Tesink was regarded as the sixth-best Saint John player, ranked 47th overall, in April. Jonathan Huberdeau
, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list, along with No. 5 Nathan Beaulieu
and No. 15 Zack Phillips
also hit for the Sea Dogs on Wednesday.
Phillips, who has nine goals in the playoffs, did suffer an upper-body injury and didn't play in the third period and overtimes. Coach Gerard Gallant
admitted after the game that his injury isn't thought to be serious.
Saint John has yet to lose three straight games all season and lost back-to-back contests only once all year. A year ago, Saint John lost the QMJHL final in six games to the Moncton Wildcats. Gatineau's last appearance in the final, and last championship, was in 2008.
, chosen by the Washington Capitals
in the third round (No. 86 overall) last year, set up all four goals, and goalie Jacob DeSerres
made 35 saves for the win.
The longest President's Cup Final prior to Wednesday's game was 28:31 into overtime, when Pat LaFontaine
gave Verdun a 5-4 win over Longueuil on April 22, 1983. The lone assist on that goal came from current Sea Dogs coach, Gallant.
Tesink began the game-winning sequence when he hit Gatineau's Nicolas Deslauriers
, forcing a turnover, which Galiev collected as Tesink drove to the net. Tesink alertly took a whack at the puck following a pass from Galiev and the puck fluttered over goalie Maxime Clermont
's left shoulder for the clincher.
"That's the most tired I've ever been and I did not want to go into a third overtime, so we said we had to finish it and we got lucky," said Tesink, who beat Clermont on the Sea Dogs' 64th shot of the game. "It's a great feeling, but it's not over yet, though. [Gatineau] doesn't quit."
Huberdeau, who has a league-leading 15 goals in the playoffs, has performed on a line with Phillips and Galiev most of the postseason.
Beaulieu squared the contest with a power-play goal off a rebound in the third period. Saint John outshot Gatineau, 13-6, in the third but couldn't find another goal as the game required extra time.
In the first overtime, Saint John was called for two early penalties, giving Gatineau a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24. Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant
called a timeout and sent out Huberdeau, Beaulieu and Simon Despres
to start the penalty kill. With help from Kevin Gagne
, Eric Gelinas
, Mike Thomas
, Stephen MacAulay
and Danick Gauthier
, the Sea Dogs escaped unscathed.
"Everybody's tired. They're a tired hockey team over there and we're tired and beat up," Gallant said. "It's going to be a battle Friday night. I don't see it being any different than tonight. It was just a battle of two good teams playing hard hockey."