Monday night saw the opening game of the 2022 Memorial Cup and the host Saint John Sea Dogs pulled off a major upset. Ryan Francis scored two goals and one assist and Raivis Kristians Ansons chipped in with three assists to lead the Sea Dogs to a 5-3 win over the OHL Champion Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Sea Dogs got started early as Yan Kuznetsov opened the scoring at 2:17. Ryan Winterton tied it at 8:43. But the Sea Dogs built a 4-1 after two periods. Francis scored his first at 16:31 of the first. Williams Dufour, the second-leading scorer in the Q, scored at 10:50. Then Francis scored his second at 18:33.
But the Bulldogs would not give up in the third. Avery Hayes scored on the powerplay at 10:06. Winterton scored at 16:41 to make the hometown Sea Dogs fan nervous. But Peter Reynolds eased those by putting the game away at 18:48.
This was the Sea Dogs’ first game under new coach Gardiner MacDougall. He went with Nikolas Hurtubise as his starting goalie. Hurtubise made 17 saves for the win. Marco Constanti got the start for the Bulldogs. He made 30 saves for the loss.
With the new format this year, the Sea Dogs get three points for their regulation win. The Memorial Cup will go with the 3-2-1 format. 3 points for a regulation win. 2 points for an overtime win, 1 point for an overtime loss. Overtime will be a three-on-three format.
In addition to Winterton’s two goals, the Bulldogs got three assists from their leading scorer Logan Morrison. Hayes had a goal and an assist.
The Sea Dogs take on the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. The Bulldogs take on the QMJHL Champion Shawinigan Cataractes on Thursday.