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Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

After a game that was a fan’s – and a scout’s – dream, one undefeated team remains in the Quebec Major Hockey League.

The Drummondville Voltigeurs put their perfect record on the line Saturday as they hosted the Saint John Sea Dogs, and came out with a thrilling 7-6 shootout win to improve to 6-0. The Sea Dogs (4-1-0-1) had their perfect record blemished a night earlier in Montreal.

It’s too bad the teams meet just three times, as it was a great chance to watch top 2011 NHL draft prospect Sean Couturier match up against four Sea Dogs (Tomas Jurco, Nathan Beaulieu, Jonathan Huberdeau and Zack Phillips) on the draft radar.

The Couturier-Beaulieu head-to-head matchup was particularly interesting. Couturier tallied a goal and two assists, with Beaulieu (photo) on the ice for two of the three points. But in the final seconds of overtime, Gerard Gallant had Beaulieu back out there, and the defenseman came out on top in a boards battle of wills against Couturier.

Beaulieu has been Saint John’s top Dog on defense with Simon Despres at Pittsburgh Penguins camp. He looked a little nervous/trying-to-do-too-much in the early going, but was on his ‘A’ game in that overtime. He’s a smart, competitive kid from a hockey family (London Knights assistant Jacques Beaulieu is his dad) so he knows how it works, and knows exactly who he was going up against in those final seconds.

These kids have gone from being the two youngest in the league two years ago to two of its brightest stars. Both are transplanted New Brunswickers who were born elsewhere but moved with their dads (Sean’s father, Sylvain, a former pro who skated alongside Wayne Gretzky, is the general manager of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan). Sean has been highly touted since the 2008 QMJHL draft, when he went No. 2 behind Brandon Gormley, while Beaulieu was a fourth-rounder selected by his father, then coach-GM of the Dogs.

You can bet Beaulieu relishes any chance to put his name beside Couturier’s in scouts’ minds, and that late battle should leave plenty wanting to see the rematch on Jan. 14-15.

Meanwhile, Huberdeau, Phillips and Jurco all had points in the game, with the latter scoring the lone Saint John shootout marker with a beautiful deke. I don’t have a clip of it yet, but it was similar to this move from last year.

The slick Slovakian has six goals already, tied for third in the league, one behind Couturier and two behind Czech rookie Tomas Filippi of the Quebec Remparts.

Writer Nathan White is the QMJHL correspondent for Buzzing the Net. 

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