Blainville-Boisbriand, QC. – As a near foot of snow fell to the ground in blistering cold temperatures, the Phoenix made the trek to the Montreal region for a rendezvous with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and returned home with two precious points. Coming into Sunday riding a four-game losing streak, the Phoenix were able to brave the storm and escape the Centre d’excellence Sports Rousseau with a narrow 3-2 win over the Armada.
The Birds got off to a favourable start scoring a couple of quick goals and chasing rookie goalie, Samuel Boileau, less than seven minutes into the game. A two-goal cushion was anything but comforting for the Phoenix, who have blown leads and lost in each of their previous two games against the Armada. The latest falter came just a week ago, so the bad blood was fresh in the veins of Stéphane Julien and his team who were looking to regain their confidence.
“I felt my players wanted to break out of their slump and they were able to do so in brilliant fashion. There was no feeling of panic, but we needed to win one to regain our confidence,” admitted Julien.
Dakota-Lund Cornish who was getting his third start in three days, starred for the Phoenix, stopping 25 of 27 shots to get his team back in the win column. Brendan Cregan welcomed his former teammates to his new home and although not starting for the Armada, Cregan gave his team a chance to win, blocking 26 of 27 shots in relief of Boileau.
Sherbrooke capitalized on an early mistake from Boileau, who mishandled the puck, before Alex-Olivier Voyer grabbed it and found Benjamin Tardif, who directed the puck into the open cage, putting the Phoenix ahead 1-0. After collecting his first QMJHL point just a day earlier, Jacob Rabouin celebrated his first goal on Sunday. He fired a shot that deflected off Boileau’s glove an in. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of goals, however it’s not how you get them but how many you get that counts!
The second period has been a nightmare for the Phoenix as of late versus the Armada. In the previous two meetings between the teams, Sherbrooke has given up a whopping twelve second period goals to Blake Richardson’s club (seven in a 7-3 loss on December 15th and five in a 7-4 loss on January 13th). All signs pointed toward more of the same in this one, as just 9 seconds into the middle frame, Simon Pinard cut the Birds’ lead in half, beating Lund-Cornish from in close.
The Birds flirted with fire in what has been an unforgiving middle stanza versus Boisbriand, but amazingly escaped unharmed. Four different Phoenix players were given minor penalties, but the Armada were unable to capitalize on any of their attempts.
Strangely enough, it was the Phoenix who made the most of the special teams opportunity. On the penalty kill, Félix Robert recuperated the puck at his own blue line and sprung free toward the Armada goal, where he made a smooth move to the backhand to get the best of his former netminder and restore the two-goal advantage.
Despite the Armada’s efforts of a comeback on Pinard’s second goal of the game, the Phoenix held off until the very end to snap out of their losing streak and leave with the two points.
A special shoutout goes out to the team’s bus driver, Jacques Breton, who got the team to and from the game safely in the messy road conditions. Thank you, Jacques!
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Sherbrooke plays hosts to the Val d’Or Foreurs on Friday, January 25th at 7:00 p.m.
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by Evan Milner