SHAWINIGAN – The Saint John Sea Dogs have suffered an early setback in their bid for back-to-back Memorial Cup titles, falling to the London Knights, 5-3, in their first game of the tournament.
Penalties became a theme for Saint John, with captain Jonathan Huberdeau sent off for elbowing just 16 seconds in.
But the Sea Dogs struck first while shorthanded, as Charles-Olivier Roussel pounced on an errant Knights pass and blasted home the opening goal from the top of the right circle just 97 seconds in.
The game stayed 1-0 until late in the first.
Max Domi and Vladislav Namestnikov tallied 1:24 apart with about five minutes left in the first, giving London a 2-1.
Seth Griffith made it 3-1 midway through the second, but Saint John got back within one on another shorthanded marker.
Huberdeau fired a shot from the left wing that deflected straight down off Namestnikov and through the legs of London goalie Michael Houser to make it 3-2.
Austin Watson gave the Knights a 4-2 in halfway through the third, but Saint John inched back to within one again with a power play goal from Ryan Tesink.
That’s as close as Saint John would come, though.
Namestnikov sealed the London win with a 5-on-3 power play goal with under a minute left.
Saint John returns to the ice Monday night against the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.
Catch all the action LIVE on News 88.9 beginning at 7:45 p.m.