Gerard Gallant is happy how his Saint John club played in clinching the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship
The Saint John Sea Dogs have an opportunity to do something very special.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champions are looking to win back-to-back Memorial Cups as Canada’s top major junior team.
The Sea Dogs open round-robin play in the Canadian Hockey League championship tournament against the Ontario Hockey League-champion London Knights on Saturday night.
The Edmonton Oil Kings, winners of the Western Hockey League, and the host Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL round out the four-team field.
“We know it’s going to be three teams that are going to battle hard and play us real tough,” said Sea Dogs head coach and Summerside native Gerard (Turk) Gallant. “It’s tough to win the Western Hockey League championship, and Edmonton has done that. They (Oil Kings) are a real good team.
“The same thing with the London Knights, and Shawinigan was upset early in the (QMJHL) playoffs, but they are a very good team. We played them (Shawinigan) four times this year, and I think we ended up 2-2 against them.”
The Sea Dogs came into this season with high expectations, and they did not disappoint.
Saint John won its third consecutive regular-season championship on the strength of a 50-15-0-3 record, and then went 16-1 en route to its second straight QMJHL President’s Cup.
“We are real happy with the performance of our team this year,” assessed Gallant, who is in his third season with the Sea Dogs. “We were expected to win the league this year, and sometimes when you are expected (to win) it makes it real tough. I thought our guys really responded well.”
One look at the Sea Dogs’ post-season record, and one would think that the team is going into the Memorial Cup without having had to face much adversity.
However, the Sea Dogs certainly were challenged at different times.
“In the semifinals against Chicoutimi, we won the first two games and then the next three games all went into overtime, and they were real battles,” explained Gallant. “We really had to bring out our best. That series was real tough.
“We lost Game 3 in Chicoutimi in overtime, and then we won both Game 4 and Game 5 in overtime. Those were some real tough times and battles. . .
“Then we got to the finals, and there were a couple of tough games — Game 1 was in double overtime. We didn’t really dominate the whole thing, but we did really play well. It was good to have a little push back from the other teams. It makes your team a lot better.”
Although Gallant admits the goal all season has been to repeat as Memorial Cup champions, he says the Sea Dogs did a good job of not looking too far ahead.
“Obviously, that’s the goal at the end of the line,” said Gallant. “What we did with the team, and it started at training camp, is try to put last year behind us as quick as possible, and just concentrate on one game at a time. That’s what we’ve done all year.
“It worked out real well in the regular season. In the playoffs, it was the same thing. We were saying, ‘Guys, never mind it’s a four-out-of-seven series, just play one game at a time, win the games and the wins will take care of themselves.’
We know it’s going to be three teams that are going to battle hard and play us real tough. Gerard Gallant, head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs
“That’s what we’ve done in the past, and it’s worked pretty well for us. Whether you won it last year or this is going to be your first Memorial Cup, it doesn’t matter — you just go play.”
THE CANADIAN PRESS
2012 MEMORIAL CUP
Canadian Major Junior Championship
At Shawinigan, Que.
All Times ET
GP W L GF GA Pt
Edmonton (WHL) 0 0 0 0 0 0
London (OHL) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Saint John (QMJHL) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Shawinigan (host) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Edmonton vs. Shawinigan, 7 p.m.
London vs. Saint John, 7 p.m.
Shawinigan vs. London, 7 p.m.
Monday, May 21
Edmonton vs. Saint John, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22
London vs. Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 23
Shawinigan vs. Saint John, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 24
Tiebreaker (if required)
Third vs. Fourth Places, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 25
Second vs. Third Places, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 26
No Games Scheduled.
Sunday, May 27
First Place vs. Semifinal Winner, 7 p.m.
Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL champions)
London Knights (OHL champions)
Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL champio