Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sea Dogs make two picks in Import Draft

For a second straight year, the Saint John Sea Dogs made two selections in the CHL Import Draft.

Saint John had the first overall pick in this year's draft and selected highly touted Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic. Then, with the 61st selection, the Sea Dogs added another forward, picking Filip Prikryl of the Czech Republic.

“Our team philosophy with import spots is that they are used for elite goal scoring and point producing top six forwards,” said Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie. “That is going to be the composition we strive for year after year, especially as we build for our next championship.”

Both are 17 and are eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Cajkovic is projected to be a first round pick.

“He has a great toolbox, he’s a smart player, and he will grow with our young talented nucleus,” said Georgie about Cajkovic. “He is excited to be a Sea Dog. He can’t wait to get here and will be very motivated in his NHL Draft year. He is very proud to wear our jersey and wants to be part of what is happening here in Saint John.”
Cajkovic comes to Saint John after spending this past season with the Malmo Redhawks junior program in Sweden (this is a feat in itself as very few players from Sweden make the switch to the CHL). He put up exceptional numbers last year, recording 24 goals in 38 games between the under-18 and under-20 teams.
Cajkovic was dominant at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship this year, finishing second in tournament scoring with four goals and seven assists in five games. American Jack Hughes, considered the top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft, finished with one more point.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sea Dogs to pick first in Import Draft

The Saint John Sea Dogs will pick first overall in Thursday's CHL Import Draft.

This will mark the second time in franchise history that Saint John has selected first. In 2009, the Sea Dogs picked Stanislav Galiev with the top pick.

Thursday's draft begins at noon Atlantic time and will be conducted online. Fans can follow along on the CHL website.

Saint John also has the 61st pick in the draft (it will be much higher with many teams passing on picks) but it appears the team will make one selection. The Dogs traded defenceman Radim Salda to Rimouski recently, making Ostap Safin the lone import remaining on the squad.

As rumoured, goaltenders will be eligible to be selected in the Import Draft for the first time since 2013, which puts an end to a dumb rule. Logic says the Sea Dogs will select a forward on Thursday given their influx on young defenceman and need for scoring help.

Saint John hasn't picked higher than fifth overall in the Import Draft since 2014 when they took Jakub Zboril. The team hasn't had great luck in the Draft since the Galiev/Jurco picks in 2009. Their Draft last year - where they took Safin and Salda - was probably the team's best since '09.

The WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings will select second on Thursday followed by the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Veleno, Salda drafted into NHL

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Two former Saint John Sea Dogs had their names called at this weekend's NHL Draft in Dallas.

Former captain Joe Veleno was selected 30th overall by the Detroit Red Wings on Friday while defenceman Radim Salda was selected 206th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Veleno was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs at Christmas while Salda was recently moved to the Rimouski Oceanic to free up an import spot.

Veleno, the first overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft and the first player to be granted exceptional player status in league history, slid down the draft rankings much of the season and slid further than many expected on Friday.

A post shared by Joseph Veleno (@__jv90__) on
“We had him extremely high on the board,” Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright told the Detroit Free Press. “I don’t want to do a lot of comparisons but he skates a lot like Dylan Larkin. He plays the game kind of like Dylan Larkin. I don’t want to compare him to Larkin, but he fits the mold of what we’re trying to accomplish. We want to be fast, we want to be competitive, and we want to produce more offense.”

Three of Detroit's top four picks in this year's draft came from the QMJHL: Halifax's Filip Zadina at No. 6, Veleno at No. 30 and Halifax's Jared McIsaac at No. 36.

Salda went around where most had projected him to go. The Lightning have been drafting a lot of QMJHL talent in recent years, so it wasn't shocking to see them use a seventh round pick on the offensive defenseman.

78 players from the CHL were selected in this year's draft - which included 23 from the QMJHL. Drummondville and Halifax each had four players selected.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Observations from development camp

By Lorne Webster | SN Staff
QUISPAMSIS - The Saint John Sea Dogs did something a bit different this year, holding a development camp for their new draftees and prospects.

All of the Sea Dogs' 2018 draft choices were present with the exception of two of the six players invited to Team Canada's under-17 camp – Mathias Savoie (fourth round, 62nd overall) and Dawson Stairs (seventh round, 109th overall) as well as second round US draftee – Cade DeStefani. Saint John Vito’s standout defenceman Kale McCullum was originally listed but did not scrimmage Saturday afternoon at the qplex.

The group was supplemented by second year players Nathan Larose, Luke Wilson, Aiden MacIntosh and Jeremie Jacob along with goaltenders Tommy DaSilva and Stewart Bagnell.

While it is early and caution from one practice is required - it was readily apparent that the team’s excitement and the draft pundits’ accolades are warranted. This draft class could be as good as – possibly even better than - that of 2013, when the Sea Dogs drafted the likes of Nathan Noel, Thomas Chabot, Mathieu Joseph and Samuel Dove-McFalls.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday's on-ice action in Quispamsis:

Jeremie Poirier – who draws comparisons to Chabot or Nathan Beaulieu - is a dynamic skater and puck handler who is prepared to push the pace at all times.

William Villeneuve – who draws comparisons to Noah Dobson – is an extremely strong skater who oozes poise and skill.

Charlie DesRoches - another defenceman with lots of skill and poise. He is likely to remind a number of Sea Dogs faithful of Pierre Durepos.

Nathan Larose - looked to be bigger and stronger. The returnee made a couple of spectacular end-to-end rushes with ‘bar down’ finishes. Following a strong second half of last season, Larose appears ready to take his game to another level next year.

Huberdeau inducted into Sea Dogs Hall of Fame

SAINT JOHN - Jonathan Huberdeau became the first inductee into the Saint John Sea Dogs Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Trade and Convention Centre.

The induction capped off a two-and-a-half hour ceremony that featured several speeches, hot stoves and a ring ceremony for the 2016-17 Sea Dogs team.

The most notable part of the evening - other than Huberdeau's induction - was probably the fact that Mike Thomas was announced as the second inductee into the Hall. There will presumably be some kind of ceremony for Thomas in the future.

Here are a few other news and notes from the evening:

  • According to a Sea Dogs release, 14 former players were in attendance: Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips, Bailey Webster, Thomas Chabot, Bokondji Imama, Simon Bourque, Phil Richer, Alex Leduc, Dave Comeau, Kyle Ward, Mathieu Joseph, Chase Stewart, and Samuel Dove-McFalls.
  • Current players and prospects greeted fans as they entered the venue on a red carpet.
  • The Sea Dogs held a development camp at the qplex over the weekend, and those players were in attendance. Many speeches made mention of them, and there were moments where the event felt like a recruitment tool.
  • The event had a cool feel to it with the 2018 draft class in attendance. It really felt like the franchise's culture of success was being handed off to them.
  • The videos created for the evening were excellent. Also played was the QMJHL's 50th anniversary video, which was played at the Draft. If you haven't seen it, you'll probably be fired up enough to run through a wall after watching it.
  • Memorial Cup champions Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips and Jonathan Huberdeau were on one stove while the other featured members of the 2016-17 QMJHL championship team: Mathieu Joseph, Kyle Ward and Thomas Chabot. Tara Slone form Hometown Hockey hosted the discussions.
  • Chabot, as expected, did not go into great detail when asked about how this past season went for him. His current team, the Ottawa Senators, is on fire.
  • One of the better (and perhaps cheesiest) videos of the night came from Mike Kelly and Gerard Gallant, who coached Huberdeau during his Sea Dogs days and again with the Florida Panthers.
  • Sea Dogs CEO and majority owner Scott McCain said during his speech that the Sea Dogs will again bid to host the Memorial Cup - but only if the team is ready. The next time the QMJHL will host (following Halifax in 2019) is 2022.
  • Former Sea Dogs assistant coach Greg Leland, who was Huberdeau's billet dad, had the longest and most emotional speech of the night.
  • A Sea Dogs release stated that over 500 people attended the event.
  • There still haven't been many details released about the Hall itself.
  • I don't know if this format will be a yearly event, but it was very well done. Very few teams (if any) in the CHL hold events like this.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Huberdeau to be inducted into Sea Dogs Hall of Fame tonight

SAINT JOHN - Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau will become the first player inducted into the Saint John Sea Dogs Hall of Fame tonight.

A ceremony will be held this evening at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre to induct Huberdeau into the club's Hall. The 24-year-old was selected for induction by an esteemed panel of Sea Dogs stakeholders, according to a team press release.

The Sea Dogs announced last summer the creation of a Hall of Fame. Not many details have been announced about the Hall itself, though.

The 2016-17 President Cup winning Sea Dogs team will also be honoured this evening. Players in attendance will receive their championship rings.

Players expected to be in attendance tonight include Thomas Chabot, Mathieu Joseph, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Simon Bourque, Bailey Webster, Cole Reginato, Kyle Ward, David Comeau, Chase Stewart, Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips, Spencer Smallman, Boko Imama and more.

The event will be hosted by Tara Slone of Sportsnet's Hometown Hockey.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Report: Salda traded to Rimouski

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs have traded defenceman Radim Salda to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The deal, which has not been made official by the league yet, will see the Sea Dogs receive a second and third round pick in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft for the offensive defensemen.
The Sea Dogs were expected to trade Salda as the team had no choice but to move him or forward Ostap Safin. Teams can carry only two imports, and with Saint John picking first in the CHL Import Draft, the Dogs had to make a deal.

Salda was one of the biggest surprises in the league last season, putting up 10 goals and 31 assists in 62 games. He was held pointless in seven games with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The 19-year-old, selected 113th overall in last year's Import Draft, was a relative unknown entering the 2017-18 season but could now hear his name called at the NHL Draft.

While the return isn't massive, it's pretty decent. Saint John was in a tough spot as teams knew they had to deal one of their imports.

Salda's loss is definitely a big loss for Saint John's defence - but there will be plenty of promising new faces filling his shoes on the blue line (faces that could use the experience and ice time in a rebuilding year like the one coming up).

The Sea Dogs will pick first in the June 28 CHL Import Draft, followed by the Edmonton Oil Kings, Sudbury Wolves and Shawinigan Cataractes.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

MHL holds annual draft

The Maritime Hockey League held its annual draft on Saturday in Berwick.

Three players selected by the Sea Dogs in this year's QMJHL Entry Draft heard their names selected. Defenceman Brendan Sibley and goaltender Stewart Bagnell, selected by Saint John last year, were also picked in the territorial portion of the draft.

Here's who went where, according to the MHL website:

Round 2: Kale McCallum (Edmundston Blizzard)
Round 6: Mathias Savoie (Campbellton Tigers)
Territorials 2: Brady Burns (Valley Wildcats)
Territorials 2: Stewart Bagnell (Miramichi Timberwolves)
Territorials 2: Brendon Sibley (Yarmouth Mariners)

The Valley Wildcats also selected four Sea Dogs in the QMJHL supplemental draft.
The St. Stephen Aces, meanwhile, had the first three overall picks in the draft. They selected Zachary Alchorn (forward - Saint John Vito's) first, Jack Morris (defenceman - Cape Breton West Islanders) second and Ethan Stuckless (forward - East Coast Blizzard) third.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A look at who the Sea Dogs drafted

By Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

The 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft took place last weekend, so let's give a brief summary of each of the picks chosen by the Saint John Sea Dogs.

The reviews are based off the scouting reports provided by HockeyPropect.com in their annual QMJHL Draft Guide and are only a small portion of what they have to offer.

Round 1 - No. 2 overall: William Villeneuve
RD - 6’1” and 154lbs
With their top pick in the draft the Sea Dogs went with William Villeneuve of the Magog Cantonniers. Villeneuve is a right handed shooting defenceman and is considered to be very intelligent, offensive defenceman that is very reliable in all three zones. His passing is considered to be excellent both on the power play and breaking out of his own zone. Villeneuve also likes to carry the puck up ice and does so very efficiently. He also kills penalties and is often trusted by his coaches in difficult situations playing against top level players in all situations. Villeneuve’s potential sees him as a first pairing defender and a power play quarterback.

Round 1 - No. 8 overall: Jeremie Poirier
LD - 6’0” and 177lbs
With their second selection in the opening round, the Sea Dogs went with another defender in Jeremie Poirier. Poirier can read the play very well and makes a strong first pass. Much like Villeneuve, this defender is also a quarterback on the power play - with the difference being that he shoots left handed. He has high-end puck skills and has a hard, accurate shot. Poirier, like many young defenders, will look to get stronger and continue to improve his defensive play in his own zone.

Round 1 - No. 15 overall: Joshua Lawrence
C - 5’ 9” and 163lbs
With the 15th overall selection, the Sea Dogs rolled the dice a little bit by selecting centre Joshua Lawrence, who spent last season with the Selects Hockey Academy U-16 program. Lawrence had verbally committed to Boston University for 2020-21. Lawrence has very quick hands and can score goals using his quick release and above average puck skills. Lawrence showed that he is ready to play against older players as he did this past season - which did not hamper his offensive production.

Round 2 - No. 29 overall: Brady Burns
C/LW - 5’8” and 139lbs
Brady Burns is an intelligent player with a very high compete level. Unfortunately for Burns, his season was cut short by injury, only getting in 26 games - but he was still able to pick up 39 points. Burns has very good edges and an outstanding work ethic that fans will enjoy. Burns projects to be more of a playmaking forward and will need to get a little bit stronger in the off-season as he does have a slender frame. Burns is the son of Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns.

Six Dogs prospects invited to U-17 camp

Six Saint John Sea Dogs prospects have been invited to Hockey Canada's Under-17 Development Camp.

Forwards Josh Lawrence (first round, 15th overall) and Dawson Stairs (seventh round, 109th overall); defencemen Charlie DesRoches (second round, 32nd overall), Jeremie Poirier (first round, eighth overall) and William Villeneuve (first round, second overall); and goaltender Mathias Savoie (fourth round, 62nd overall) have all been invited to the camp, which will take place July 21-27 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
According to Hockey Canada, "following the development camp, players will continue to be evaluated through the early season before 66 are named to one of three Canadian national teams – Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red, and Team Canada White."

While the Sea Dogs may be missing a chunk of their team for a couple weeks during this tournament, fans won't have to go far to watch them. The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will take place Nov. 3-10 at Harbour Station and the qplex. Tickets are now available.

All six players were selected by the Sea Dogs in last weekend's QMJHL Entry Draft in Shawinigan. 111 players were invited in total, 28 of which have been drafted into the QMJHL.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Campoli joining Sea Dogs

SAINT JOHN - After years of struggling to land players with NCAA experience or intentions, the Saint John Sea Dogs have had an extremely encouraging week.

After officially announcing that Josh Lawrence had decommitted from Boston University to sign with the Sea Dogs, the team has added overage defenceman Michael Campoli, who played a season at Boston College.

Saint John acquired Campoli at last weekend's QMJHL Entry Draft in a deal with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Dogs sent fourth and sixth round picks in 2019 to the Armada.
Campoli was a fourth round pick of Blainville-Boisbriand in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft but has never appeared in a Quebec league game. He spent the 2016-17 season at BC where he recorded an assist in 12 games (and presumably got very little ice time).

The Pointe-Claire, Que. native spent last season with the BCHL's Penticton Vees where he registered three goals and eight assists in 19 games.

Campoli will be part of a revamped Sea Dogs defence core, which will likely include three of the teams top 2018 draft picks in William Villeneuve, Jeremie Poirier and Charlie DesRoches (who has decommitted from Northeastern University). It will be young and inexperienced, but certainly a lot more promising and intriguing than last season's group.

It's believed that Saint John will deal defenceman Radim Salda in the coming weeks in order to make room for a new import. The Sea Dogs hold the first overall pick in this year's CHL Import Draft.

Sea Dogs sign Lawrence

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs have landed a big fish.

Reports surfaced this afternoon that forward Josh Lawrence, a top prospect for this year's QMJHL Entry Draft, has signed with the Sea Dogs.

Lawrence, 16, had previously committed to Boston University. Wednesday's news ends a recent string of losses for the Sea Dogs when it comes to swinging players to take the major junior route over NCAA.

“We are thrilled to have Josh and his family join our Sea Dogs family,” Sea Dogs president and GM Trevor Georgie said in a release sent to Sportsnet. “He is a franchise centre. He is an elite offensive talent. He is a local rising star who has decided to commit to us, to his home province, and to the best developmental league in the world – the Canadian Hockey League.”


Lawrence was a top prospect for this year's draft, ranked sixth by QMJHL Central Scouting and ninth by HockeyProspect.com. He slid to the Sea Dogs at 15th because of his NCAA intentions.

Last season, the Fredericton native recorded 27 goals and 56 assists in 49 games with the Selects Hockey Academy under-16 team in Connecticut.

Saint John's second round pick, Charlie DesRoches, has, meanwhile, decommitted from Northeastern University and will be joining the Sea Dogs next season. The 16-year-old defenceman from Wellington, PEI played at the same school as Lawrence last year.

“It was one I had to think about a lot, but in the end I think I made the right choice,” DesRoches told The Journal Pioneer.

“They had a great draft, and have had a lot of success the last few years. They know how to win, and I’m really excited.”

It's early, obviously, but Lawrence and DesRoches are part of what has to be considered one of the best drafts in Sea Dogs history. The team also landed two of the top defensive prospects available - William Villeneuve and Jeremie Poirier. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sea Dogs welcome new crop of players

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs drafted 17 new players on Saturday at the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft.

The Sea Dogs had three first round picks and six in the top four rounds. The Dogs also pulled the trigger on a trade, acquiring the QMJHL rights of overage defenceman Michael Campoli.

Saint John drafted nine forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on Saturday. Here's the full list of players drafted (click here for further player info):

1st round, 2nd overall: William Villeneuve (D)
1st round, 8th overall: Jeremie Poirier (D)
1st round, 15th overall: Josh Lawrence (F)
2nd round, 29th overall: Brady Burns (F)
2nd round, 32nd overall: Charlie DesRoches (D)
4th round, 62nd overall: Mathieu Savoie (G)
5th round, 82nd overall Alexandre O'Neill (F)
6th round, 108th overall: Charles-Antoine Dumont (F)
7th round, 109th overall: Dawson Stairs (F)
8th round: 127th overall: Nicolas Kakouras (D)
8th round, 133rd overall: Kale McCallum (D)
10th round, 163rd overall: Connor Richard (F)
10th round, 165th overall: Connor Bradford (G)
10th round, 178th overall: Anthony Provost (F)
12th round, 199th overall: Riley Bezeau (F)
13th round, 217th overall: Simon Trottier (D)
14th round, 235th overall: William Gagnon (F)

The Sea Dogs moved up to select DesRoches, sending third (37th overall) and fourth round (67th overall) picks to the Charlottetown Islanders in exchange for the 32nd overall pick. In the 10th round, Saint John sent a 2019 ninth round pick to the Val-d'Or Foreurs to select 165th overall.

Both Lawrence and DesRoches have committed to NCAA programs: Lawrence, a Fredericton native, to Boston University and DesRoches, a PEI native, to Northeastern. Both played at the Selects Hockey Academy in Connecticut last season.

Saint John also did something they have rarely done in their history: go heavy on picking locals. This year, the Dogs drafted two players from the Saint John Vitos, one from Rothesay Netherwood and, unexpectedly, one from St. Malachy's High School.

This marked the eighth time in team history the Sea Dogs have used their first pick in the draft to select a defenceman (and the second straight year following Brendan Sibley in 2017).

Saint John will select first overall in the upcoming CHL Import Draft.

Sea Dogs acquire Campoli from Armada

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs made an unexpected move at Saturday's QMJHL Entry Draft.

During the seventh round, the Sea Dogs announced that they have acquired the QMJHL rights of Michael Campoli from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in exchange for fourth and sixth round picks in 2019.

Campoli, a 20-year-old defenceman, spent last season with the BCHL's Penticton Vees, recording three goals and eight assists in 19 games. A dual citizen who has spent time with the United States development program, Campoli spent the 2016-17 season at Boston College. He announced his departure from the program this past December.

A Pointe-Claire, Que. native, Campoli played midget with the Lac St. Louis Lions and was a fourth-round pick of the Armada in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft. He has never appeared in a QMJHL game.

If Campoli reports, Saint John's defence will look drastically different this coming season. Saint John also used their top two first round picks in Saturday's draft to select defencemen.

Sea Dogs make three picks in first round

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs went heavy on defence in this year's first round.

The Sea Dogs used both of their top 10 picks in the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft to select defenceman, taking William Villeneuve second overall and Jeremy Poirier eighth overall.

Villeneuve was widely believed to be heading to Saint John after the Chicoutimi Sagueneens took Hendrix Lapierre with the first overall pick.

Villeneuve recorded nine goals and 25 assists in 40 games with the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League's Magog Cantonniers last year. He added four goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games.

The 16-year-old is listed at 6'1" and 154 lbs.

"A right-handed offensive defenseman, he is able to get involved regularly on the attack when an opportunity arises, not hesitating to carry the puck from his own zone and support his forwards by offering options to them during counter-attacks," write HockeyProspect.com. "Excellent from the opposite blue line, he is particularly effective on the power play, where he is very active with the puck."

At No. 8, the Dogs picked up Poirer, a 6'0," 176 lbs defender who played with the Châteauguay Grenadiers last year. In 50 games, Poirier had five goals and 26 assists. He added a goal and five assists in 13 playoff games.

It's draft day

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - It's draft day in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

A new crop of players will be drafted into the league today. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens won the league's draft lottery and will select first overall. There's always the possibility of a trade, but it appears the Sags will be using the selection.

The Saint John Sea Dogs are scheduled to pick second overall - the first of three picks in the opening round. At this time, they are also scheduled to pick again at eighth (acquired in the Joe Veleno trade) and 15th (acquired yesterday in the Cedric Pare deal).

Here's a look at Saint John's full list of selections:

1st round: 2nd, 8th, 15th
2nd round: 29th
3rd round: 37th
4th round: 62nd, 67th
5th round: 82nd
6th round: 108th
7th round: 109th
8th round: 127th, 133rd
9th round: None
10th round: 163rd, 178th
11th round: None
12th round: 199th
13th round: 217th
14th round: 235th

The Sea Dogs have not picked in the opening round since 2016. The team has never picked second overall before but have, of course, selected first overall on several occasions.

This will be a key draft for the Sea Dogs, as this will set the base for the team's rebuild. Last season was more a year zero, while this will be year one of the build back to contention.

Fans can watch the draft beginning at 11 a.m. on TVA Sports or follow it through the usual social media channels.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A look at the top prospects

Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - With the Saint John Sea Dogs drafting twice in the top 10, we decided to take a look at some of the names we might hear on QMJHL Entry Draft day.

The Sea Dogs currently hold the second and eighth overall selections (and the 15th - pending any other trades). This will be a crucial draft for Saint John's rebuilding process.

1. Hendrix Lapierre - Gatineau L'Intrepide
Forward - 5' 11" 161lbs

The No. 1 prospect hails from Gatineau, Que. and plays for the Gatineau L'Intrepide in the Quebec Midget AAA league. Lapierre is a skilled centre with a great understanding for the game both offensively and defensively. He has a very good release, protects the puck well, and is willing to play in all areas of the ice. This past season, Lapierre tallied a total of 17 goals and 40 assists for 57 points in 35 games. Lapierre also led the Gatorade Excellence Challenge in scoring by netting three goals while adding six assists for a tournament high nine points. He was a key factor in Team Quebec Blue's tournament victory.

2. William Villeneuve - Magog Cantonniers
Defense - 6' 0" 154lbs

The top rated defenseman in this year's draft class is William Villeneuve - who spent this past season playing with the Magog Cantonniers out of the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League. Villeneuve is a slick skating defender and has an outstanding hockey IQ. He plays extremely well at both ends of the ice and is considered to be a two way defender. Villeneuve can QB a power play with a quality point shot and has creative playmaking ability while shutting down the opposing team's top players when called upon. It should be noted that Villeneuve also shoots right handed, which should be considered a plus for any team drafting him. This season, Villeneuve collected nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points in 40 games with Magog. Villeneuve took part in this year's Telus Cup and played very well, compiling five assist in his seven games and often played against opposing teams' top players.

3. Patrick Guay - Magog Cantonniers
Forward - 5' 8" 155lbs

Patrick Guay played with the previously mentioned Villeneuve on an outstanding Magog squad out of the QMAAA league. Guay is also the younger brother of Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Nicolas Guay. Guay put up some impressive numbers this season with the Cantonniers, amassing 34 goals and 30 assists for 64 points in just 39 games. He also finished in a tie for the league goal scoring title with Sea Dogs prospect Justin Hryckowian - who is a year older. While Guay can fill the net with an excellent release, he plays an intelligent two-way game. Guay also played in the Telus Cup tournament and showed more of a play making style to his game, picking up a goal and five assists in seven matches.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Report: Pare to be traded to Oceanic

Embed from Getty Images
The Saint John Sea Dogs rebuild is hitting full swing.

According to Sportsnet's Jeff Marek, the Sea Dogs will trade forward Cedric Pare to the Rimouski Oceanic in exchange for draft picks - a package that includes the 15th overall pick in this weekend's QMJHL Entry Draft.
If this report is accurate, the Sea Dogs will - for the time being at least - have picks two, eight and 15 in this year's first round.

The Entry Draft takes place on Saturday in Shawinigan.

Pare, 19, has struggled to consistently produce offensively. Last season, he recorded 13 goals and 24 assists in 60 games. There's a strong chance his numbers will take a jump this coming season while playing on a team that should be in the league's upper tier.

Pare was taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft. He was a sixth round pick of the Boston Bruins in last year's NHL Draft.

The Sea Dogs are in for a few years of rebuilding, no doubt, but stockpiling first round picks should help expedite the process.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stanley Cup Final begins tonight in Vegas

Embed from Getty Images
At this time a year ago, not many people would have picked Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly to be the Saint John Sea Dogs alumni taking part in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. But here we are.

The two former Sea Dogs coaches will lead the expansion Vegas Golden Knights into the best-of-seven NHL final, which begins tonight. The Knights will take on the Washington Capitals.

The Knights, of course, are one of the best stories in sports this season and are guaranteed to be made into a movie someday. They also feature quite a few QMJHL alumni.

Gallant and Kelly guided the Sea Dogs into three straight QMJHL finals between 2010 and 2012, winning two.

Gallant has been nominated for NHL's Jack Adams Award, which is awarded annually to the league's coach of the year.

Some other alumni notes...
  • There were no former Sea Dogs players in this year's Memorial Cup, but the Hamilton Bulldogs did feature JP Laciak, a former athletic therapist with Saint John.
  • Will there be any Sea Dogs alumni taking on the Toronto Marlies in this year's Calder Cup final? We'll know soon. Matthew Highmore, Chris DiDomenico and the Rockford IceHogs currently trail the Western Conference final 3-2 to the Texas Stars. Game 6 of that series goes tonight.
  • DiDomenico continues to lead the AHL in playoff scoring with six goals and 17 points in 12 games.
  • In the ECHL's Kelly Cup final, the Florida Everblades and Colorado Eagles are tied 1-1. The Everblades feature Michael Kirkpatrick, Stephen MacAulay, Spencer Smallman and Callum Booth. According to media reports, Kirkpatrick is currently out with a concussion.

Titan win Memorial Cup championship

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The Acadie-Bathurst Titan made history on Sunday night in Regina.

The Titan won their first ever Memorial Cup championship, dominating the host Regina Pats in a 3-0 victory. The win is the first national championship for the QMJHL since 2013 and marks just the third time a team from Atlantic Canada has lifted the trophy.

Adam Holwell, Samuel Asselin and Ethan Crossman all scored for the Titan while Evan Fitzpatrick made 28 saves in the shutout win.

Bathurst dominated the first 40 minutes, outshooting the Pats 36-11. Regina goaltender Max Paddock was the only reason the game was close heading into the third. The Pats, predictably, had their moments in the third period - outshooting the Titan 17-8 in the frame - but could not score.

The Titan, in just their second ever tournament appearance, had a fairly smooth run to the championship, finishing the preliminary round 2-1 and earning an automatic spot in the final.

This is, obviously, a huge accomplishment for the Titan franchise - a franchise that has had its struggles in just about every department over the past decade. It's also big for all small market teams across the CHL.
Next year's Memorial Cup will take place in Halifax - the first time it's been hosted in Atlantic Canada since 2006.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Titan take on Pats in Memorial Cup final tonight

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REGINA - The Acadie-Bathurst Titan will look to do something no QMJHL team has done since 2013 - win the Memorial Cup final.

The Halifax Mooseheads were the last team from the QMJHL to win a national title, capping off a stretch of three straight Q winners. Since then, a QMJHL team has appeared in the final just once (Rouyn-Noranda in 2016).

The Titan earned an automatic spot in the final earlier this week, finishing with a 2-1 record. They'll take on the host Regina Pats in tonight's final, who finished 2-1 in preliminary round play and defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs in Friday's semifinal.

Game time this evening is 8 p.m. The game can be seen on Sportsnet.

The Pats had a long layoff heading into the tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs. They'll look to join last year's Windsor Spitfires and the 2012 Shawinigan Cataractes as recent host teams with long breaks to win the tournament. The host team has won the Memorial Cup just three times since 2007.

While the Titan's story isn't really an underdog tale - they were one of the best teams in the QMJHL all season long - it has the feel of one. The Titan are one of the smallest markets in the CHL, and for them to get to this point - especially after everything that has happened to the franchise over the past decade - is quite impressive.

The Titan's only previous Memorial Cup experience was in 1999 when they finished third.

The Titan will also look to become just the third team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup following the 2013 Mooseheads and 2011 Saint John Sea Dogs.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

2018-19 QMJHL schedule released

The Saint John Sea Dogs will open the 2018-19 regular season at home on Sept. 21.

The Sea Dogs will host the Halifax Mooseheads in what will be the season opener for both clubs. The QMJHL's regular season opens one night earlier with the Moncton Wildcats visiting the defending President Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Saint John has a home heavy first month of the season, playing nine of their first 13 games at Harbour Station, only leaving the province twice (Charlottetown both times). That's good because the Sea Dogs have a comically large road stretch in November due to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge invading Harbour Station. Here's a look at Saint John's schedule from Nov. 1-16.
That will not be an easy stretch. The Sea Dogs return to Harbour Station ice on Nov. 21.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Titan keep President Cup in New Brunswick

BATHURST - The President Cup is staying in New Brunswick.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan won the 2018 QMJHL championship on Sunday at the KC Irving Regional Centre, defeating the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 2-1 to take the series in six games.

This marks the second consecutive season a New Brunswick based team has defeated the Armada to win the President Cup. Last year, the Saint John Sea Dogs swept Blainville-Boisbriand.

A New Brunswick based team has won five of the past nine QMJHL championships (Sea Dogs - three; Titan - one; Moncton Wildcats - one).

Jeffrey-Truchon Viel and Samuel L'Italien scored for Bathurst while goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick was tremendous, carrying a shutout until the final three minutes of the third period.
Drake Batherson scored the Armada's only goal as his team's offence struggled to click throughout the game. The Armada had just three shots in the first period and never looked comfortable all game. Rookie goaltender Emile Samson - one of the best stories of this post-season - made 24 saves in the loss.

The Armada were the top ranked team entering the playoffs. They've made it to the third round four times in the past six seasons and appeared in the final twice, but still have nothing to show for it.

This was the Titan's second QMJHL championship since relocating to Bathurst, having previously won in 1999. The victory is a sweet one for the franchise and its fanbase, who have gone through just about everything over the past decade - relocation rumours, a training camp tragedy, multiple rebuilds, a change in ownership, etc. But all of that will be forgotten for a while thanks to Sunday's win.

Bathurst will now represent the QMJHL at next week's Memorial Cup tournament in Regina. They'll join the host Pats, OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs and the WHL champion (either the Swift Current Broncos or Everett Silvertips) in the 100th edition of the event.

Titan look to clinch Cup tonight

BATHURST - The Acadie-Bathurst Titan can win the President Cup on home ice tonight.

The Titan carry a 3-2 series lead over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada heading into today's Game 6 at the KC Irving Regional Centre. A Titan win would put Bathurst into the Memorial Cup while an Armada win would force a Game 7 in Boisbriand on Tuesday.

It's been a close, back-and-forth series despite some lopsided scores. Bathurst defeated the Armada 5-3 on Friday in what has been the closest end result so far in this series.
The Titan own a series lead thanks to something no other team could do this post-season: beat the Armada on home ice. Bathurst has won two of the three games played in Boisbriand, which now has them in a position to win the President Cup today on home ice.

Bathurst previously won the President Cup in 1999. They lost in the league final in 2001 and 2002.

The winner of this series will represent the QMJHL at the Memorial Cup, which begins on Friday in Regina. The QMJHL's first game is on Saturday against the WHL champion.

All three CHL finals are currently at 3-2. The Hamilton Bulldogs lead the OHL final 3-2 over the Sault Ste. Mare Greyhounds heading into this afternoon's Game 6. In the WHL, the Swift Current Broncos lead the league final 3-2 over the Everett Silvertips heading into Game 6, which will also take place today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dream season ends for Islanders

The Charlottetown Islanders' fairy tale season did not have the magical ending it deserved.

After proving doubters wrong all season, the Islanders had their underdog campaign come to an end on Tuesday in Boisbriand, falling 6-1 to the Armada in Game 7 of their semifinal playoff series.

The Game 7 result came as a surprise (and, to be honest, a disappointment given how good the first six games had been) after such a close and evenly played series. Five of the previous six games had been decided by a single goal with three games going to overtime.

While the loss is no doubt disappointing for the Islanders, reaching the semifinals was an incredible accomplishment for a franchise that has a long history of underperforming. The team was projected by just about everyone to finish dead last in the league with some even predicting the squad to be one of the worst in league history. Instead, they surpassed all expectations and are set up fairly well for next season as well.

The 2017-18 Islanders season could be a franchise altering campaign. We've seen time and time again what overachieving can do for a franchise's near future.

The Armada, the league's No. 1 seed, will now play the No. 2 seeded Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the President Cup final. Game 1 is on Friday at 8 p.m. in Boisbriand and can be seen on Sportsnet.

It's the second straight finals appearance for the Armada, who lost in a sweep to the Saint John Sea Dogs last year. This will be Bathurst's first appearance in the final since 2002.

There will be just one former Sea Dog in the series - Armada forward Samuel Leblanc who has appeared in seven playoff games this year.

The winner of the final will represent the QMJHL at the Memorial Cup in Regina later this month.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Isles, Armada meet for Game 6 tonight

CHARLOTTETOWN - This biggest game in Charlottetown Islanders/PEI Rocket/Montreal Rocket history will take place this evening at Eastlink Centre.

Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal series against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, the Islanders must win to keep their improbable and incredible season alive.

Game time at a sold out Eastlink Centre is 7 p.m.

Even if the Islanders lose tonight, this will be the most memorable campaign in franchise history. At this time last year, nobody was predicting them to get to this point.

The home team has won every game in this series - and it would be fitting if Charlottetown won another close game tonight, which would set up a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Boisbriand. The Isles have refused to die easily all season long, and tonight will likely be no different.

Four of the five games in this series have been decided by one goal with two games going to overtime. It's been an insanely close series, with goaltenders Matthew Welsh and Emile Samson both playing likes MVPs.

The winner of this series will face the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the league final. The Titan advanced to the fourth round for the first times since 2002 with a surprising sweep of the Victoriaville Tigres.

If the Armada advance, the final will begin in Boisbriand. If the Islanders advance, the series would begin in Bathurst.

Friday, April 20, 2018

QMJHL semifinals begin tonight

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinals begin tonight.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Victoriaville Tigres will meet in one semifinal while the Blainville-Bosibriand Armada and Charlottetown Islanders will meet in the other.

The Titan, Tigres and Armada were all expected to reach this stage, with the Islanders being the only surprise (in fairness, Charlottetown has surprised all season long, so perhaps it isn't a surprise at all, at this point).

While Isles are coming off the high of a sweep of the highly skilled Halifax Mooseheads, they'll have their hands full with the Armada. Blainville-Boisbriand has had a smooth run through the post-season so far with their only blemish being a messy Game 4 loss to the Moncton Wildcats last round.

The Armada are the No. 1 ranked team and are the favourites to win this season.

The other matchup has the potential to be the best series of these playoffs. The Titan are the No. 2 seed while the Tigres are the No. 6 - but Victoriaville's lineup is probably much better than their regular season record shows.

The Titan had some trouble in the first round with the Sherbrooke Phoenix but didn't have any difficulties in the second, sweeping the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Tigres, meanwhile, need five games to eliminate both the Gatineau Olympiques in the first round and Drummondville Voltigeurs in the second.

The semifinals begin tonight at 7 p.m. in Bathurst and 8:30 p.m. in Boisbriand, respectively.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sea Dogs' magical draft lottery run ends

The dynasty run is over.

The Saint John Sea Dogs' streak of QMJHL draft lottery wins came to an end on Thursday night in Montreal, finishing in second place. Before the 2018 event, the Sea Dogs had won all five draws they had taken part in in franchise history.

Saint John had the highest odds (nine balls - a 43% chance of winning) but finished second behind the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Sags had just two of the 20 balls in the draw and the second lowest odds of victory.
Unlike the previous years the Sea Dogs were victorious in the draw, the event involved five teams instead of two. The new format was introduced last year to reduce tanking. The new format has certainly been effective as this marked the second year the team with the highest odds did not win. Last year, the Rimouski Oceanic had the third best odds of winning and ended up with the first overall pick.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

QMJHL draft lottery takes place tonight

The five-time draft lottery champion Saint John Sea Dogs will put their dynasty - and perfect record - on the line tonight in Montreal.

The Sea Dogs have, incredibly, been apart of five draft lotteries previously heading into tonight's showdown. For a team that just completed their 13th season and given the amount of on-ice success the franchise has had, the amount of draft lottery participation is striking.

Even more striking is the fact that Saint John has won all of the draws they have been involved in in the past - but all those featured just two teams. This year's draw will feature five clubs, a format that started last year to try and reduce tanking.

The Sea Dogs will have the most balls in the draw - and, therefore, the best odds at winning the first overall selection. Per lottery rules put in place by the league, Saint John can fall no lower than third - which happened to the Moncton Wildcats (who had the most balls in the draw) last year.

Saint John will have nine balls in tonight's draw, giving them a 43% chance of winning. The Shawinigan Cataractes will have six balls, Charlottetown Islanders (acquired from the Val-d’Or Foreurs) three, Chicoutimi Sagueneens two and the Sherbrooke Phoenix (acquired from the Moncton Wildcats) one. The probability of winning the draw was based off the league’s regular season standings.

Tonight's event begins at 8 p.m. AST at TVA studios in Montreal. It can be watched on TVA Sports.

The 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft takes place Saturday, June 2 in Shawinigan.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Playoff Update: A night of upsets

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Three Games 7s, three upsets.

It was an incredible night in QMJHL playoff action as all three road teams were victorious in Game 7, setting up a set of very unlikely second round matchups.

The biggest of the upsets saw the No. 14 seed Moncton Wildcats defeat the No. 3 seed Rimouski Oceanic 6-3. The Oceanic were able to fire just 20 shots on Moncton netminder Mark Grametbauer, who became the story of the series after being called out by Rimouski's head coach.

The victory is one of the biggest upsets in QMJHL history and marks the second straight season that the No. 3 seed has been eliminated in the first round. Last year, Val-d'Or defeated Shawinigan in six games.

The junior careers of former Sea Dogs Samuel Dove-McFalls (Rimouski's captain) and Chase Stewart ended in the loss.

In Quebec City, the Charlottetown Islanders and Quebec Remparts entered the third period tied 2-2 and appeared destined for overtime - then Charlottetown exploded for six goals, going on to an 8-3 victory. Pascal Aquin scored for goals for Charlottetown, three of which came in the third period.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Official attendance numbers up again

Officially, Saint John Sea Dogs attendance increased for a fourth straight season in 2017-18.

The Sea Dogs averaged 4,257 fans per game, an slight increase of 56 fans per match compared to 2016-17. The average is the fourth highest in team history and largest since the 2011-12 campaign.

While the official numbers say Saint John's attendance was up this season, we're confident in saying attendance was actually down compared to last year. The difference between the announced attendance and people in the building seemed to be a lot larger than in past seasons. Attendance numbers are always inflated (in every city - not just Saint John), but they were inflated a lot on many nights.

It's hard to say how many fans the Sea Dogs actually averaged this year, but attendance was decent given the on-ice product. Saint John recorded 14 wins in the regular season, setting a franchise low.

Here's a look at Saint John's attendance through the years.

SeasonTotalAverage
2005-06156,6944,477 (4th)
2006-07134,3543,839 (6th)
2007-08139,2143,978 (5th)
2008-09133,6133,930 (5th)
2009-10140,7794,141 (4th)
2010-11152,2374,478 (4th)
2011-12155,0604,561 (3rd)
2012-13135,7323,992 (4th)
2013-14116,3803,423 (5th)
2014-15121,7823,582 (5th)
2015-16123,3993,629 (4th)
2016-17142,8294,201 (3rd)
2017-18144,7234,257 (4th)

The Sea Dogs finished fourth in QMJHL attendance this year, sitting behind Quebec (9,002), Halifax (7,210) and Moncton (4,289). The league averaged 3,195 fans per game, an increase from the 2016-17 average of 3,169.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan averaged 1,903 fans per game, which was their highest average since 2007-08 (2,178).

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Playoff Update: Game 7s coming up

The first round of the 2018 President Cup playoffs has proven to be one of the better ones in recent memory.

There will be at least two Games 7s - and potentially a third - on Tuesday night in the QMJHL. Both the Moncton Wildcats and Sherbrooke Phoenix have forced their series to a seventh and deciding match with wins Sunday afternoon.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan, meanwhile, finally dispatched the No. 15 seeded Chicoutimi Sagueneens, winning Game 6 by score of 5-1.

In Moncton, Mark Grametbauer made 40 saves in the Wildcats' 2-1 victory. The first star performance follows the bizarre comments made by Oceanic head coach Serge Beausoleil about the Moncton netminder.
Beausoleil tried to clarify his comments on Sunday.
It's been a great and close series between the Oceanic and Wildcats, which is not something we see too often between the third and 15th seeded teams. This series definitely deserves a seventh game - and it should be a good one.

Sea Dogs fans unhappy with front office change

Saint John Sea Dogs fans are voicing their displeasure over the team's decision to drop long-time radio voice Tim Roszell from his full-time position.

News broke on Tuesday that the Sea Dogs had let Roszell go from his full-time role as manager of media and communications/play-by-play announcer. The position will no longer be a full-time role, but part-time.

Roszell has been offered the part-time position with the team, which would include broadcasting home games on webcast along with some communications work. No one else has been offered the role and the team is waiting for Roszell's decision before moving forward.

The Sea Dogs, at this time, are not planing on having radio broadcasts next season, we are told. Whether there will be a free audio stream of games - and if so, how many games - as a replacement is not yet known.

A petition has been started by fans to bring Roszell's full-time role back. At the time of this writing, the petition had 382 supporters.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Playoff Update: Wildcats, Titan still playing

RIMOUSKI - The Moncton Wildcats are on the brink of elimination while the Acadie-Bathurst Titan are a win away from the second round.

The Wildcats went down 3-2 in their series with the Rimouski Oceanic last night, losing a close game that ended with a 5-2 score. Samuel Dove-McFalls had a goal and an assist for Rimouski while Chase Stewart had an assist. Game 6 is Sunday in Moncton.

In Bathurst, the Titan defeated the pesky Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-1 to take a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is on Sunday in Chicoutimi.

The Charlottetown Islanders will look to take a 3-2 series lead this afternoon at Eastlink Centre. The Isles evened up their series with the Remparts last night with a 4-2 win. Today's match will be the final game of the series played in Charlottetown.

The only other series still going in Sherbrooke/Rouyn-Noranda. The Huskies took a 3-2 series lead last night with a 4-1 home win. Luke Green remains out of the Phoenix lineup.

Elsewhere, Halifax won their series against Baie-Comeau 4-1, Blainville-Boisbriand swept Val-d'Or 4-0, Drummondville eliminated Cape Breton 4-1 and Victoriaville moved on with a 4-1 series win over Gatineau.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Draft lottery details announced

Details have been released on this year's Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft lottery.

The draw, which will feature teams that finished in the bottom five of the league's overall standings (or the teams that hold those picks), will take place on Thursday, April 5 at 8 p.m. AST at TVA studios in Montreal. The event will air on TVA Sports.

Below are the odds each team has:
Of note, the Sea Dogs, who finished last, can not finish lower than third. While the odds are obviously in their favouring in terms of picking first or second, they could fall down to No. 3, which happened to the Moncton Wildcats last year.

Here is some more info, from a league press release:

After the team which will select during the first rank of the entry draft is determined, all the balls representing the team involved are removed from the draw. This process is repeated each time a team is drawn. However, if the Saint John Sea Dogs who finished last in the standing are not picked during the first or the second lottery draw, they will automatically be awarded the third draft pick overall. Equally, if according to the process described previously, the team that finished at the last rank is awarded automatically the third draft pick overall, or was selected during the first or the second draw, while the Shawinigan Cataractes who finished next to last have not yet been selected, then they will be automatically awarded the fourth draft pick overall.

The Sea Dogs have won every draft lottery they have taken part in previously - however, this will be the first time they take part in the five team process, rather than the two team format.

Saint John has selected first overall five times in team history - an incredible amount given the success the team has had in such a short period.

The 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft takes place on Saturday, June 2 in Shawinigan.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Playoff Update: The playoffs are still good

Folks, this isn't your grandfather's first round.

The days of eight lopsided first round series seem to be over (for now at least) as five of this year's are tied up after two games. Even the three series that are 2-0 have had their close moments.

As mentioned on Friday, hopefully this is an early sign of things to come. Even with the Saint John Sea Dogs not involved, who doesn't love some good playoff hockey?

Here's a look at each series after two games.

Armada 2 - Foreurs 0
The Armada had their troubles in Game 1, needing overtime to defeat the No. 16 seed Foreurs. They seemed to figure things out in Game 2, winning 5-1. The series now shifts to Val-d'Or, where there will surely be a good atmosphere.

Titan 1 - Sagueneens 1
The Titan are the heavy favourites in this series, but suffered one of their worst loses in months on Saturday, falling 4-0 to the No. 15 seed Sagueneens on hime ice. Bathurst was good enough, but not great, in Game 1. We've seen the Chicoutimi franchise play the upset role in the past, so the Titan will need to be careful here. This is a 2-2-1-1-1 scheduling format.

Oceanic 1 - Wildcats 1
Another surprising series has been Wildcats/Oceanic, where Rimouski, the No. 3 seed, could easily be down 2-0 right now. After pulling off a big 4-1 upset win in Game 1, Moncton nearly took Game 2 but fell 2-1 in overtime. Alexis Lafreniere, who most guessed would be a Wildcat at this point a year ago, scored the overtime winner. Samuel Dove-McFalls assisted on both Rimouski goals.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Playoff Update: We're off to a good start

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The President Cup playoffs are off to an entertaining start.

The playoffs have only been rolling for a couple days but, if those days are an indication of things to come, this could be a fun post-season.

Friday night was highlighted by the Moncton Wildcats upsetting the heavily favoured Rimouski Oceanic in Game 1, winning 4-1. The Oceanic are the No. 3 seed while the Wildcats are No. 14.

Here's a breakdown of Friday's action:

  • Alexis Lafreniere was held pointless by the Wildcats in the Oceanic loss. Rimouski captain Samuel Dove-McFalls had one assist. Chase Stewart will likely have to sit out Saturday's Game 2 after being given an aggressor game misconduct in the first period.
  • Bathurst went down early but didn't have much trouble after that, recording a 3-1 win over the Chicoutimi Sagueneens to take a 1-0 series lead. Big crowd of 2,815 on hand.
  • The Halifax Mooseheads beat the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 5-2 in Game 1 of that series. The Drakkar scored first and ended up outshooting Halifax 38-26 - thanks mostly to seven power play opportunities. Alexis Gravel had a good night in net.
  • As expected, the Victoriaville Tigres had little trouble with the Gatineau Olympiques, taking Game 1, 7-2. Gatineau only had 17 shots on goal. Vitalii Abramov had a million points to make Olympiques fans suffer a bit more.
  • After a Game 1 scare, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had little trouble with the Val-d'Or Foreurs in Game 2, winning 5-1. Samuel Leblanc had two shots for the Armada. The Armada lead the series 2-0.
  • Joe Veleno was held pointless in the Drummondville Voltigeurs' 5-2 Game 1 win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Declan Smith had an assist for Cape Breton.
  • There was another upset on Friday - but a much minor one - with the No. 10 Sherbrooke Phoenix defeating the No. 7 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 2-1 in Game 1. The Phoenix have never won a playoff series.
  • The Charlottetown/Quebec series begins on Saturday at Videotron Centre.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Seven Sea Dogs alumni win U Sports medals

FREDERICTON - Former Saint John Sea Dogs forward Mark Tremaine and the StFX X-Men suffered another heart breaking loss in the gold medal game of the University Cup.

After falling in the gold medal game to the UNB Varsity Reds in 2016, Tremaine and the X-Men fell once again this year, losing 4-2 to the Alberta Golden Bears.

In his three-year career with the X-Men, Tremaine now has two Atlantic University Sport titles and two U Sports silver medals.

The loss came 24 hours after a thrilling 5-4 overtime win over the rival Varsity Reds in the national semifinal. Tremaine had an assist in that game.
Ex-Sea Dog Marcus Cuomo is also apart of the X-Men but did not play in the tournament.

Five former Sea Dogs won bronze medals with the Varsity Reds, who defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies 5-4 in overtime in Sunday morning's third-place game. Mike Thomas, Stephen Anderson, Matt Murphy, Olivier LeBlanc and Oliver Cooper all picked up hardware.

Cooper did not play in the tournament, but the other four all made an impact. LeBlanc perhaps had the biggest impact - in a negative way, unfortunately - as he took a momentum swinging and controversial kneeing major in Saturday's semifinal.

Tremaine, Cuomo, Anderson, Murphy, LeBlanc and Cooper are all eligible to return to their teams/schools in the fall. For Thomas, this was his final year of eligibility, capping off what has been a little over a decade of having a prominent hockey presence in the province.

Thomas will no doubt be featured in the near future in the Sea Dogs' new Hall of Fame.

Sea Dogs have best odds of landing top pick

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs will have the best odds of landing the first overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft.

With a loss on Saturday in Cape Breton, the Sea Dogs officially finished last overall in the 18-team Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Unlike past seasons when the Sea Dogs missed the post-season, there will be an actual lottery rather than a coin flip or 50/50 odds.

Under the new system, which began last year, the 18th place team will have nine chances of winning the first overall pick, 17th place will have six, 16th will have three, 15th will have two and 14th will have one.

Previously, only the bottom two teams had a chance at landing the first pick. Saint John won every time they took part in that format.

The move was made to reduce teams tanking. It certainly worked as the last-place Moncton Wildcats, who tanked, ended up picking third last year while the 16th-place Rimouski Oceanic picked first.

The draft lottery will be held around the first week of April, so the Sea Dogs will know where they are picking soon.

Saint John also owns Gatineau's first round pick in this year's draft, which will be eighth.
In HockeyProspect.com's latest rankings, Fredericton-born forward Josh Lawrence is the top rated prospect. Currently playing in the United States, Lawrence is already committed to Boston University for the 2020-21 season.