SAINT JOHN, NB — During morning practice ahead of the first game of the tournament, coach Gardiner MacDougall had pointed to the heights of TD Station and advised the Saint John Sea Dogs players that there was room there for a second Memorial Cup championship banner.
This slot will be filled in a ceremony prior to the first game of next season.
Riley Bezeau and William Dufour scored within 34 seconds of the second period and the Sea Dogs defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in Wednesday’s Memorial Cup Finals.
An 8th conquest for the host team
The Sea Dogs ended the regular season on a 15-game winning streak. They were then surprisingly eliminated by the Rimouski Oceanic.
MacDougall, head of the men’s hockey program at the University of New Brunswick, was called in to relieve Gordie Dwyer from behind the bench.
The Sea Dogs, host team 2011 also champions of the tournament, regained their composure from the beautiful days with renewed energy. They helped the QMJHL to their third straight Memorial Cup title and their 14th in league history.
“He has a winning mentality,” Dufour said of MacDougall. He won seven championships at UNB. He won everywhere he went. »
MacDougall instead paid tribute to everyone in the organization, particularly its players.
“Any coach will say they’re better when they have great players. There were a lot of great players at our camp tonight,” he said.
“I think (Dufour) was the best player on the ice tonight. Our goalkeeper was exceptional. Our defense played as a unit. All the forwards contributed to that,” added MacDougall.
Cam MacDonald had one goal and two assists, Josh Lawrence and Peter Reynolds each had one goal and one assist, while Vincent Sévigny also scored for the Sea Dogs. William Villeneuve and Ryan Francis each had two assists and Nikolas Hurtubise made 25 saves.
“I’m proud of the group that worked hard to come back from that disappointment in the playoffs,” said Hurtubise, the tournament’s top goalkeeper. We got back to work and we’re the best in the country! »
Dufour finished the event with seven goals, one just under the tournament record and one assist in four games. He was named MVP of the tournament.
“Great hockey players will shine in great moments. Dufour is a great hockey player,” Hurtubise said of the New York Islanders.
Mason McTavish scored twice, while Jan Mysak also scored for the Bulldogs, who were chasing a first Memorial Cup title after winning the OHL. Nathan Staios and Gavin White each had two assists and Marco Costantini had 21 stops.
Head coach Jay McKee said six of his 18 skaters suffered serious injuries, including Mysak and Staios, who suffered from a fractured shoulder.
“Even so, the guys gave it their all,” said McKee. In our eyes, they are the champions of champions, having beaten the Western and QMJHL champions. We won a championship but lost a tournament. »
The wind in the sails
Sévigny opened the first shot on goal of the game, 2:35 into the game, his slapshot deflected off the racquet of Montreal Canadiens rookie Arber Xhekaj before moving the strings.
A third straight Memorial Cup for the QMJHL
MacDonald then doubled the Sea Dogs’ lead at 5:47 on the team’s third shot on goal. He surprised Costantini on the side of the shield.
McTavish restarted the Bulldogs at 7:45 a.m. and deflected a shot from Nathan Staios into goal.
After that, the match lost intensity. Ryan Humphries had the only other good chance in the first period, but the Bulldogs forward’s shot hit the bar.
After 4:41 playing time in the second period we had to wait for the next fireworks. Bezeau made it 3-1 in favor of the Sea Dogs with a perfect shot up.
Dufour returned to attack 34 seconds later. The Sea Dogs star scored his seventh goal of the tournament after a perfect game from Ryan Francis.
The Bulldogs increased the pressure towards the end of the second period and reduced the deficit to 4-2 with nine seconds left. Mysak, the Canadian’s other hope to play for the Bulldogs, played lucky when a long shot from Gavin White deflected against him before ending in goal.
In the third period, however, the Bulldogs were plagued by indiscipline.
After some spectacular saves from Hurtubise at the expense of Xhekaj and Avery Hayes, Xhekaj and Humphries were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Lawrence scored on the power play at 6:32 to make it 5:2.
“The hardest thing for me is to see one of our players get punished for spilling their water bottle in the Memorial Cup Finals when we’ve seen that type of gesture on every bench in every game with no repercussions,” said McKee and visibly came to Xhekaj’s defense. When they hit, it sawed my legs. »
McTavish gave the Bulldogs one final shot of life with 4:57 left when his long shot stunned Hurtubise. The goal was awarded after a video evaluation.
Reynolds delivered the knockout blow by hitting in an empty net at 1:17 on the clock.
Xhekaj’s accidental distraction, 1-0 Sea Dogs!
The seals are hungry! MacDonald delivers the goods!
Bezeau triples the Sea Dogs’ lead
A 7th in the tournament for William Dufour
The offensive recital continues for the Sea Dogs!
“The other teams played, we trained”
“It’s just amazing! »
“It’s just amazing! »