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Host Saint John Sea Canine relish spot in Memorial Cup Remaining

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Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman William Villeneuve (13) of the Saint John Sea Dogs after defeating the Shawinigan Cataractes at the 2022 Memorial Cup on June 25, 2022, at Harbour Station arena in Saint John, NB. Saint John Sea Canine defenceman William Villeneuve (13) of the Saint John Sea Canine after defeating the Shawinigan Cataractes on the 2022 Memorial Cup on June 25, 2022, at Harbour Station enviornment in Saint John, NB. Picture by Vincent Ethier /CHL

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The Saint John Sea Canine are a win away from claiming the 2022 Memorial Cup, which is a powerful accomplishment for a crew who sat idle for greater than a month ready for the beginning of the match.

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The Sea Canine booked their spot within the ultimate with a 5-3 come-from-behind win in opposition to the Shawinigan Cataractes at Harbour Station enviornment Saturday. New York Islanders prospect William Dufour — the QMJHL participant of the 12 months — scored 4 targets within the victory, together with a pure hat-trick within seven minutes within the second interval.

The Sea Canine will face the winner of Monday’s semifinal between the Cataractes and Hamilton Bulldogs. The ultimate takes place Wednesday, bringing an finish to the longest junior hockey season in historical past.

“Initially of the match, I didn’t need to have any regrets and I knew earlier than this recreation I might have solely two or three video games left in my junior profession,” Dufour stated Saturday. “Now, I simply have one recreation left, so I wished to offer all the things I’ve and I’m going to do the identical factor on Wednesday.”

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Saint John completed third within the QMJHL Japanese Convention standings with a 47-17-1-3 document, however fell within the first spherical of the playoffs to the Rimouski Oceanic.

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Because of the season being disrupted by the pandemic, the playoffs within the QMJHL had been best-of-five sequence up till the ultimate, and the Sea Canine misplaced Sport 5 at house 4-3 in time beyond regulation.

After being eradicated, Saint John fired head coach Gordie Dwyer and introduced in College of New Brunswick legend Gardiner MacDougall to run the crew on the Memorial Cup. In 22 years at UNB, MacDougall has gained seven nationwide championships.

Now, MacDougall is a win away from including a Memorial Cup championship to all his college accolades.

“I keep in mind after I was a younger coach in Flin Flon and we retired Bobby Clarke’s jersey, we retired Reggie Leach’s jersey and Bobby Clarke was the overall supervisor of the Philadelphia Flyers on the time,” MacDougall stated. “Within the wee hours of the morning on the historic Flin Flon lodge, I had an opportunity to ask Bobby Clarke about Mike Keenan. He had gained in College, he gained on the American Hockey League, took the Flyers to a division ultimate after which the Stanley Cup finals and he advised me, ‘he hasn’t finished something but.’

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“So, I’ve used that as a little bit of a motto as a coach. We’re in a bottom-line enterprise. This (Saturday) was historical past for the town, the Sea Canine and the gamers, however we’re lucky, we have now time to regroup, and we have now to seek out methods to get higher the subsequent three days, as a result of we all know we have now a top-quality opponent. We’re hanging round and we have now one other alternative the subsequent recreation.”

There have been questions whether or not the Sea Canine can be aggressive on the Memorial Cup in opposition to the WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings, OHL champion Bulldogs or the QMJHL champion Cataractes.

The Sea Canine had 38 days from the time they had been eradicated and their opening recreation of the Memorial Cup.

Together with MacDougall, the Sea Canine introduced in former NHL heavyweight Rocky Thompson as an advisor. Thompson was coach of the Windsor Spitfires in 2016-17 and went by way of the same expertise, getting knocked out of the primary spherical of the OHL playoffs as Memorial Cup hosts. The Spitfires then went on to win the Memorial Cup match.

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“He’s been a superb useful resource for us,” MacDougall stated earlier within the match. “He been by way of this earlier than and was capable of share with us what labored and what didn’t work for him again then.”

The Sea Canine’ coaching camp method to organize for the match has, up to now, labored. The Sea canines opened the match with a 5-3 win in opposition to the Bulldogs, then had been edged out 4-3 in time beyond regulation by the Oil Kings earlier than defeating the Cataractes. Saint John completed first within the round-robin and now have three days to organize for the ultimate.

Towards the Cataractes, the Sea Canine fell behind 3-0 within the first interval and it regarded as if they might get run out of their very own constructing. However Dufour took over, beginning with two targets in 21 seconds to tug his crew again to inside a aim.

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The Islanders fifth-round choose (152 general) within the 2020 NHL entry draft, then accomplished his hat trick, driving to the online and ending off his personal rebound.

“It was fairly particular,” MacDougall stated. “He’s on the market killing penalties, enjoying wing, enjoying centre. You go along with your horses and he’s a reasonably large horse. He had a magic second interval and was excellent.

“When your high guys purchase in, you take a look at him shot blocks and penalty killing, he’s rising as a participant and he’s rising as a teammate. He’s turn out to be an actual chief for the crew and I believe any time your lead horse is on the entrance main the group, everyone is following. It’s particular to see this for certain.”

For all they’ve been by way of this season, the Sea Canine hope to be the final crew standing and declare their second Memorial Cup title. Their earlier championship got here in 2011 with Florida Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau on the squad.

“It feels good, however we nonetheless have yet another recreation to play although, so it doesn’t actually imply a lot now,” Sea Canine ahead Josh Lawrence stated. “We’ll take the remainder and we’ll be able to go within the ultimate.”

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