Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recap: A Night Of Champions

SAINT JOHN – It was a night to remember at Harbour Station.

The building buzzed as owners, employees and players of the Saint John Sea Dogs hockey club received their Memorial Cup championship rings. Fans stood and cheered as the President’s Cup and Memorial Cup banners were raised to the rafters. And as if that wasn’t enough excitement, they watched the Sea Dogs dominant the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, winning 6-0.

It was quite a night for the Sea Dogs and the city of Saint John, a night that won’t be forgotten for some time.

In our two-plus years of covering the team, this was one of the most memorable nights. Here is a recap of the festivities.

The first thing we noticed after taking our seats was that some banners had already been hung. The 2009-10 and 2010-11 Atlantic Division and Regular Season Championship banners were placed between the Canadian and American flag in the west end.

The other thing we noticed was that the banners had been downgraded in size. The ones that were hung at the start of last season were basically double the size. We like the smaller versions better.

At some point before the game, @SJSeaDogsFan spotted these in the penalty box.

Then can warmup. We didn’t count, but were pretty sure the crowd size watching warmup on Saturday night was the equivalent of the crowd watching Friday’s game.

Once warmup ended, some highlights from the 2011 President’s Cup final were played on the big screen. Fast-forward to 4:10 of this video to check them out.

You could tell it was special night when the Sea Dogs announced on Twitter that they had already sold out of gameday programs. If you missed out, call 657-DOGS this week to get a copy.

While the highlight video was being shown, carpets, tables and a podium were rolled out and placed at centre ice. Some fancy new lights were projected onto the ice. It was show time.

Harbour Station PA announcer Peter McDevitt ran the show from centre ice with a big time podium.

After some highlights from the QMJHL final and the Memorial Cup were played, it was time to begin the ring ceremony.

QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, who walked out to centre ice to a chorus of boos, was the first ring presenter. Sea Dogs Chairman and CEO Scott McCain was up first and got a long and loud standing ovation as he received his ring. The rest of the ownership group then received their hardware.

McCain, Courteau and team president Wayne Long remained at centre ice to assist in the presentation of the rings. The board of directors, administration, scouting and hockey operations staff were then awarded their hardware. Head coach Gerard Gallant received a standing ovation.

Then, finally, came the players. There were some cool moments during the player introductions. Jacob DeSerres, now playing fir Calgary Dinos, was in the house and skated out in full gear to collect his ring.

Gabriel Bourret and Alexandre Beauregard, both who are now playing for the Sagueneens, skated out in Sea Dogs sweaters and stood on the blue line with their old teammates. Stanislav Galiev, who is currently out with a broken wrist, also skated out with gear on.

All the players who will be receiving rings were introduced. For those were not there, a kid skated out to collect the ring. For Mike Thomas’ ring, it was announced that the first ever Irving Oil Seventh Player collected his.

Galiev tweeted all angles of his ring.

Once all the bling was handed out, it was time for the Memorial Cup to make an appearance. The Cup was carried out by a couple of military folks. Some bagpipers played as the trophy was carried out. Then it was time for the banners to go up.

A few players carried over the President’s Cup banner to the west end where it was raised to the rafters. Then came the Memorial Cup banner.

The finished product.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Vermette then took part in the ceremonial faceoff.

Huberdeau’s sister, Josianne, performed the anthem.

Just before the game, videos of Thomas, Eric Gelinas, Michael Kirkpatrick, DeSerres, Steven Anthony and Simon Despres talking about their Memorial Cup memories were shown on the big screen.

Here is Anthony's.

The finished product, with the lights on.

SeaDogsTV has some video of the events.

NOTES: Special 'Night of Champions' noisemakers were handed out at the door... Canadian Hockey League commissioner David Branch was sick and unable to attend… the Saint John players who were not with the Sea Dogs last season were snuck onto the bench during one of the highlight videos… the crowd of 5,888 was not a sell out… according to the QMJHL website, the game didn’t start until 7:32pm… for those wondering about the empty seats, the last photo was taken during the first period... check out all of Marc’s pictures here.

Photo Credits: With the exception of the top ring photo, banners-in-the-penalty-box pic and Galiev's rings, all photos are by Marc Henwood and Jamie Tozer. Penalty box and ring pictures taken from Twitter. Top ring picture from SeaDogsTV.

No comments:

Post a Comment