LEWISTON — Mathieu Corbeil is making the most of his first junior hockey playoff experience.

The Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick and Saint John keeper played his second consecutive stellar game between the pipes for his squad, stopping 28 of 30 Lewiston shots — including several jaw-droppers in the first and third periods — to lead the Sea Dogs to a 5-2 victory over the Maineiacs in Game 3 of the teams’ Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal series at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Tuesday.

“I’ve never been in the playoffs before in junior hockey,” Corbeil said. “It’s a whole other feeling. It’s very fun and it gives me another level of desire to win. You need to do whatever it takes to win.”

Corbeil frustrated the Maineiacs, who are now down 3-0 in the series, from the game’s beginning.

“A couple times we knocked on the door and could have tied it up or at least made it a one-goal game,” Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said. “He was outstanding. He played a real good game, and he frustrated us. It’s frustrating when you have quality chances and you can’t put them in the back of the net. It’s hard. Hopefully we can find a way to get it in (Wednesday).”

“He’s a big guy, he’s getting a chance to play and he’s running with it,” Saint John coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s playing real well and real solid for us right now.”

An evenly-played first period gave way to a dominant second for the Sea Dogs, who used goals from four different players — on four different lines — to build a 4-1 advantage after the middle frame.

“That’s the type of team we’ve got. That’s the way we won in the regular season,” Gallant said. “It wasn’t just from three or four guys. It’s through your lineup. Obviously we have some top-end players, but when we’ve got the depth that can score … They don’t get to play enough sometimes, but they’re good hockey players, and it showed (Tuesday).”

With Lewiston forward Stefan Fournier in the box for hooking, Saint John’s leading scorer in the playoffs Jonathan Huberdeau banged home a slick feed from behind the cage by Michael Kirkpatrick at 1:56. Only 1:18 later, Vancouver Canucks’ draft pick Steven Anthony picked Lewiston defender Olivier Dame-Malka’s pocket and tapped the puck to Tomas Jurco, who deked to the backhand and beat keeper Nick Champion five-hole.

The Sea Dogs made it 3-0 at 7:01 as Ryan Tesink crashed the cage and forced the puck into the net, along with a pile of players.

The game turned chippy as the Maineiacs’ frustrations began to show, and only grew after Antoine Houde-Caron appeared to beat Corbeil on a shorthanded breakaway, only to have the lanky keeper kick out his right pad at the last second.

The Maineiacs got on the board at 11:23 when Kirill Kabanov criss-crossed with Jess Tanguy on a 2-on-2 in the Saint John zone and put the return feed over the line beyond Corbeil. Kabanov appeared to be everywhere Tuesday for Lewiston, and may have been on the ice more than any other player for either squad.

“Kirill’s playing real well right now. He’s probably one of the best players in the league right now,” Houle said. “He had a late start with the trade and the stuff that was going on in Moncton, but we’re real fortunate to have him. He’s a great player, he likes it here in Lewiston, he’s well-liked by his teammates and he played a lot tonight. We double-shifted him. When a guy is going well like that, you have to play him.”

The Sea Dogs reestablished their three-goal advantage at 18:24 of the frame as the team’s grinders, led by captain Mike Thomas, stuffed the puck past Champion on a scramble in front.

The Maineiacs went back to 17-year-old Russian rookie Andrey Makarov for the third period. He again allowed no goals in relief of Champion.

Though neither team managed a goal in the opening frame, Lewiston had the bulk of the pressure early, forcing Corbeil to make a handful of quality saves. He stuffed Kabanov three times on the same shift in the second half of the period, and also withstood a late barrage from Lewiston.

“They’re down 2-0 and they’re at home and you know they’re going to come out and play their best game,” Gallant said. “They worked hard, they competed hard and drove pucks to the net. I thought (Lewiston) played an excellent game. We were lucky to get the early goal. They probably should have been up 2-0. We hung on in the first, and then after that I thought we played real well.”

The Sea Dogs survived an injury scare in the first, also. Only 17 seconds into the contest, top defenseman Simon Despres became tangled with a forechecking Lewiston skater and slammed hard into the boards behind Corbeil. Despres stayed down on his elbows and knees before teammates helped him to the bench. He resurfaced about 12 minutes later.

In the third, Christophe Lalonde made the most of his first action of the series, tipping home a feed from Pierre-Olivier Morin 23 seconds into the frame to cut the Saint John lead to two.

“Chris Lalonde and Francis (Beauvillier) played well tonight, they moved their feet and they had a lot of energy out there,” Houle said. “That’s what we need from all of our players.”

The Sea Dogs polished off the game with a Stanislav Galiev empty-netter in the waning minutes of the game.

The Maineiacs got a scare in the third when Dame-Malka hobbled off after a knee-on-knee hit that drew a two-minute penalty for Saint John skater Danick Gauthier. The team also skated Tuesday without forward Michael Chaput.

“Michael Chaput is day-to-day, we’re not sure what’s going to happen with him yet,” Houle said. “Malka I believe came back from his injury. He’s going to get treated and hopefully he’ll be able to play tomorrow.”

The teams will square off in Game 4 of the series Wednesday at the Colisee.


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