Jason Cameron of the Saint John Sea Dogs holds the Memorial Cup at his home in Clyde River in this Guardian file photo. Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Jason Cameron’s junior hockey career is over.
The Clyde River native’s four-year run with the Saint John Sea Dogs ended with a 6-2 loss in Charlottetown on the final night of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season.
“It’s pretty emotional for me right now,” the left-winger said after the game. “It’s good to be home though, to play in front of friends and family.”
The Sea Dogs, coming off a 19-44-2-3 season, did not qualify for the playoffs.
“We would have liked to make it a little bit further,” Cameron said. “With the young crop of kids that we have now, it’s a learning process for those guys and they’re going to make the playoffs pretty soon.”
The team iced a lineup with five 16-year-old players and a lot of 17-year-olds as it rebuilds after being one of the best franchises in the league for years. The team had seven picks in the first four rounds of last year’s draft. They were all in the lineup on Saturday, including third overall pick Nathan Noel, who ended the season with 16 goals and 23 assists in 63 games.
“Everybody in that room gained tons of experience this year,” Cameron said.
“They can only go up from here. It’s going to be exciting to see how this Sea Dogs team (does).”
Cameron is the last remaining player from the Memorial Cup championship squad in 2010-11 that was coached by Gerard (Turk) Gallant and Mike Kelly.
The Sea Dogs victory marked the first time a team from Atlantic Canada won the CHL’s top prize in it 93-year history.
“I was fortunate to get on a good team,” Cameron explained. “I am so thankful for Turk and Mike Kelly to bring me on to that team and give me the opportunity to play for them.”
Cameron didn’t skate in the national championship after bruising his kidney in Game 4 of the QMJHL final with Gatineau.
He got his chance the following season as the Sea Dogs repeated as league champs, but lost in the Memorial Cup semifinal to the eventual national champs from Shawinigan, the host club.
“It only seems like yesterday,” Cameron said reflecting on those early years.
“Every overager says the same thing, that junior hockey seems to go by so quick. You snap your fingers and it’s gone.”
Cameron said there have always been a lot of Island connections with the Sea Dogs with guys like Stephen Anderson, Alexander McQuaid, Spencer Smallman and Bailey Webster.
“It’s fun. It makes it feel more like home,” Cameron said.
He is unsure what the future holds. He plans on exploring the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) route, but is in no rush to make a decision.
“That’s something I am looking forward to, the next chapter of my hockey career,” he said.
Who – A five-foot-11, 178-pound centre with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Age – 20.
Hometown – Clyde River.
Season GP G A Pts
2013-14 65 7 6 13
2012-13 67 3 0 3
2011-12 62 4 8 12
2010-11 46 3 4 7
Quote – “I had a pretty good run in the Q. . . I had an enjoyable experience.”