After finishing the season as the hottest team in the league, the Saint John Sea Dogs kick off the playoffs tonight as they take on the ninth-ranked Rimouski Oceanic.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at TD Station.
After “a bit of a disappointing first half,” the Sea Dogs managed to finish the season third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings, said Jamie Tozer, editor-in-chief of Station Nation, a blog dedicated to all things Sea Dogs.
Tozer said the team made significant mid-season swaps, with “huge additions to an already good mix”, to find the recipe for success.
“They’ve been one of the best teams, not just in the league, but in the whole country since the holidays. So they’re really, really coming into the playoffs.”
Very hot, in fact. Fifteen wins in a row.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Tozer said. “It’s the longest streak in the league this season.”
To put that into perspective, Tozer said it tied “the third-longest winning streak this team has ever had – and they’ve had some really good teams over the years. So that’s pretty impressive.”
With a strong finish to the season, Tozer said the team definitely deserved their No. 3 spot, and “maybe if the season had been a bit longer they could have caught up to Charlottetown and Quebec.”
Against the Oceanic, Tozer said the Sea Dogs “are definitely the big favorites in this series and I think the most important thing for the Sea Dogs is that they just have to focus on their game.”
He said they will have to focus on the attack.
“Rimouski is a pretty good defensive team. They don’t allow a lot of goals and they don’t allow a lot of shots. So if I’m in Saint John, I focus on that.
The Sea Dogs are also the host team for this year’s Memorial Cup, the national championship of the Canadian Hockey League, which is made up of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Major Junior Hockey League du Québec (LHJMQ) and the Western Hockey League (WHL). ).
The event is a four-team round robin between the champions of each of the three leagues, plus the host team.
Tozer said that often puts a lot of pressure on a team, but he says the Sea Dogs have already proven to perform well under pressure.
“Given the way they played in the second half, I think they’re going to handle the situation very well. I think they kind of adapted to deal with that pressure. And I don’t think that it’s going to be a huge story.”
Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie said he’s looking forward to seeing how far his team can go.
“It’s a group that has eight players drafted into the NHL, 13 players who have attended NHL training camps, which is the most in the country. And so I’m really excited for these young men to show us what they can do.
In the hockey world, the Memorial Cup is a huge deal, Georgie said.
“It’s most likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s never been in Saint John before and usually doesn’t happen in cities our size.”
Georgie said it was important to keep players’ ages in perspective. Despite their size and often full beards, they are between 16 and 20 years old, “so they are very young,” he said.
“For so many of these players, even those who make it to the NHL, they will have these moments for the rest of their lives.”
Georgie said the Sea Dogs often punch above their weight. For example, when the current NHL season started, he said the Sea Dogs had the most alumni among the 18 QMJHL teams.
Additionally, Georgie said the Sea Dogs have the best second-half record of all 60 CHL teams.
More than hockey
Several other events are taking place in Saint John as part of the 10-day Memorial Cup, beginning June 18 with a ball hockey tournament and live music concert hosted by Area 506 at its new Container Village on the waterfront. sea.
The Port City Party will feature live performances including The Strumbellas, Alan Doyle, Classified and Matt Mays. The number of places being limited, the holders of a pass for the Memorial Cup will be admitted in priority.
Opening day of the Memorial Cup will end with a fireworks display.