The Panthers’ top goalie prospect, Sam Montembeault, is set to appear in the QMJHL Finals for the first time in his 4-year career.
The starting net minder for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Montembeault will face the Saint John Sea Dogs when the President’s Cup Finals open on Friday.
Blainville defeated the Charlottetown Islanders on the road in game 5 of the semifinals on Saturday by a score of 5-2. Montembeault made 31 saves in the win.
It was the Armada’s fourth straight victory after dropping the first game of the series against the Islanders, who were the league’s highest scoring team during the regular season with 303 goals.
Entering the finals, Montembeault has started all but 2 of the Armada’s 16 playoff games this postseason and has a record of 12-2. His 12 victories are the most by a QMJHL goaltender in the postseason since 2005
In the quarterfinals against the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, the 20-year old went down with an injury with the series tied at 1 and the Armada lost 2 straight.
When he returned, he allowed just 3 goals over the next 3 games to backstop the Armada to 3 straight victories, earning them a trip to the semifinals.
Montembeault, a 3rd-round pick of the Panthers in 2015, has won 28 of his last 35 starts for the Armada and is the only Panthers’ prospect still in action outside of a professional league.
Things won’t be easy for Blainville as the opposing Sea Dogs swept their first two opponents before winning in 6 games during the semifinals.
Saint John’s power play connected at a league-best 29.9 percent during the regular season, although it’s come in at an average 15.4 percent during the postseason, well below the Armada’s 32.8 percent mark.
Matthew Highmore, who attended the Panthers’ development camp last July, is the Sea Dogs’ 3rd-leading point-getter in the postseason and was sixth in the league in the regular season. Highmore signed with the Blackhawks in March.
Montembeault will face Saint John’s goaltender Callum Booth, a 2015 4th-round pick of the Hurricanes.
Booth own’s the best goals-against average mark among all goaltenders in the playoffs at 1.85, however Montembeault sits a tick below him at 1.95. Both are even at 12 wins each.
The Armada have reached the playoffs each year since their inception in 2011, but this will be their first time in the championship round. They opened the playoffs with a 4-game sweep of the Drummondville Voltigeurs in round 1, a series in which Montembeault allowed just 1 goal in each game.
Panthers Move Down to 10th
The order of selection for the first 15 picks of the 2017 NHL Draft was determined on Saturday in Toronto with representatives in attendance from each of the teams that missed the playoffs.
The Panthers entered the night with the 9th-best odds to land the first-overall selection, but will now pick 10th overall after the 13th-ranked Flyers earned the 2nd-overall pick.
The Stars, who were a spot above the Panthers at number 8, won the 3rd-overall pick while the Devils moved up from the 5th position to the top spot.
“I’d like to get some goal scoring,” said Dale Tallon, the Panthers’ General Manager, prior to the lottery. “If we have any need at all, it’s a natural goal scorer.”
The 2017 Draft takes place on June 23rd and 24th at the United Center in Chicago.