Memorial Cup: The Saint John Sea Dogs ready to take their ‘last chance’

MONTREAL — The Saint John Sea Dogs players had a week to get the villain out.

The day after their surprise elimination to the Rimouski Océanic in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs on May 12, every member of the Memorial Cup host team was told to go home, reconnect with loved ones and play hockey for a while to forget bit. turn the page.

“It felt good,” admitted captain Vincent Sévigny in an interview with RDS.ca on Thursday. “After that we all went back to Saint John for a kind of training camp. »

However, the man in charge of the ice at the TD station was not the same when they returned to New Brunswick. Fired 10 days after his team’s failure in the playoffs, Gordie Dwyer had given way to Gardiner MacDougall, a hired head coach who was only called on to save Canada’s varsity ranks for the duration of the tournament.

“All the players, we didn’t expect that,” says Sévigny, a 21-year-old veteran. He’s a coach who loses his job and it’s never anything the fun for gamers. »

Sévigny knew very little about MacDougall, except that the 62-year-old had called him shortly after the transaction that took him from the Victoriaville Tigres to the Sea Dogs to commend the merits of the Varsity Reds program at the University of New Brunswick , as his final season in the QMJHL came to an end.

We weren’t on the line to hear most of this conversation, but I’m betting MacDougall took the opportunity to say a word about the seven Canadian collegiate titles the Reds have won in 22 years under his tutelage.

MacDougall is a regular at tournaments, where he has developed an envious reputation that has led Sea Dogs General Manager Trevor Georgie to ask him for help. MacDougall is a winner.

“That inspires confidence in us,” says Sévigny. As he left he showed us his rings and listed everything he had won. […] I don’t know how many there were [de bagues]… seven? I don’t know, but there were many. »

But MacDougall isn’t just a jewelry collector with a brilliant resume. As two of his former protégés recently described to us, the personable mustache also masters the art of motivation.

“It’s very visible when you talk to him, whether it’s about hockey or anything else,” confirms Sévigny. He’s very passionate about this sport and there’s something really contagious about it. He is energetic on the ice […] He has won many times and wants to do the same with our team. We’re working towards the same goal, that’s the beauty of it. »

To achieve that goal, which was to win the Memorial Cup on their home turf after a long involuntary 38-day hiatus, MacDougall also put his herd through another one of his specialties: rhythmic and rigorous training.

“It’s intense,” summarizes Sévigny. You hear the name of drill and you will place yourself otherwise you will skate. You must be focused at all times. »

To make it easier to learn these in such a short amount of time, MacDougall named each of his drills after one of his players.

“We’re allotted a certain amount of time, and if you don’t place yourself in five seconds, you’re skating,” explains Sévigny. We play from band to band and then we replace ourselves with the same thing drill. By skating we will find out. »

In training sessions both on and off the ice, MacDougall has also scheduled pick-up games against local players every three to four days to prepare his players for the sprint that awaits them.

“They were players from all over New Brunswick. From the world of UNB (University of New Brunswick), East Coast League. Even Philippe Myers (a defender of the Nashville Predators organization) came,” lists Sévigny.

“The goal is to get top form because when the puck hits the ice on June 20th, we don’t get rusty and wonder where to go on the ice. Find out your party habits. »

Sévigny and the Sea Dogs will have their first opportunity to prove they will be anything but welcoming hosts in Monday night’s Memorial Cup opener against the Hamilton Bulldogs. This is followed by the preliminary round games on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oil Kings and on Saturday against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

“We know this is our last chance to prove what our team can do and we don’t want to miss it. »

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