WINDSOR, Ont. — Callum Booth made 31 saves and Joe Veleno had two goals and an assist as the Saint John Sea Dogs downed the Seattle Thunderbirds 7-0 on Tuesday to advance to the Memorial Cup semifinal.
They will face the loser of the last round-robin game between host Windsor (2-0) and Ontario Hockey League champion Erie Otters (2-0). The winner of the all-OHL matchup earns a direct route to the championship game on Sunday.
The season is over for the Western Hockey League champion Thunderbirds after going 0-3 at the tournament. They scored just three goals and gave up 18.
Chase Stewart, Mathieu Joseph, Spencer Smallman, Cole Reginato and Bokondji Imama supplied the rest of the offence for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Sea Dogs (1-2). Imama tacked on two assists for a three-point outing.
Seattle’s Carl Stankowski gave up four goals on 14 shots before getting yanked for the second straight game of the tournament for Rylan Toth, who made 11 saves in relief.
Chabot got in alone on Stankowski in the game’s opening minute only to wring a shot off the post.
For the next 10 minutes both sides played a conserved game, unwilling to take any chances.
But some 4-on-4 hockey led to Booth having to bail out his team by turning away Scott Eansor on a breakaway after a turnover by Veleno just outside the Saint John blue line.
Shots were 8-6 Seattle after a scoreless first period.
Veleno put his team on the board first, 1:14 into the second period, snapping a shot from between the top of the circles low glove side on Stankowski after Seattle turned the puck over on the sideboards.
Thunderbirds captain Mathew Barzal blocked a shot with the back of his left leg that left him slow to get up, but he was out for his next shift and nearly scored with a wrist shot Booth had to turn away.
Seattle had the better scoring chances in the first half of the second, but Booth was perfect on the 20 shots he faced in the game’s first 30 minutes.
Only a night earlier Booth gave up five goals on 14 shots and found himself on the bench watching his team drop a 12-5 decision against Erie. He entered Tuesday’s tilt with a 5.46 goals-against average and a .784 save percentage in two tournament starts.
Booth’s play proved to be big as it allowed Saint John to take a 4-0 lead with three goals in a 53-second span.
Stewart scored on a pass from Jakub Zboril at 14:04, and Joseph snapped it blocker side on Stankowski before the P.A. announcer had a chance to call Stewart’s goal just 15 seconds later.
Smallman ended Stankowski’s night with 4:03 to play in the second, putting a backhand past the helpless keeper.
The goalie change didn’t spark Seattle, though, as Reginato and Imama added goals only 44 seconds apart to make it 6-0.
Just after killing off a Sea Dogs power play, Veleno made it 7-0 seven minutes into the third with he second of the night.