There's a lot of directions to go madly off in now that the Saint John Sea Dogs, with an authoritative 7-1 win in Game 6 over Victoriaville, have clinched a berth in the QMJHL final.
The Moncton Wildcats-Sea Dogs final, an all-New Brunswick final, will be the first Quebec league championship series that doesn't include a team from Quebec. The Sea Dogs, who got a hat trick from Mike Hoffman, an Ottawa Senators prospect, in the clincher, are also playing in the league final in just their fifth season of existence, which makes the one of the more successful start-up franchises in recent memory. (Ten years ago, the Barrie Colts won the OHL championship in just their fifth season.)
It's been a dream season for Saint John, whose three overage leaders, Hoffman, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Nick Petersen (who had three points tonight) and goalie Marco Cousineau, have set the pace all season. Going down the lineup, they are perhaps a little ahead of schedule, with 10 players born in either 1992 or '93. They should be pretty formidable against Atlantic Division rival Moncton.
One can only imagine the atmosphere in New Brunswick, which seldom gets a national sporting spotlight. Back in 2007, there was an all-N.B. final in Canadian university hockey, when the UNB Varsity Reds beat the Moncton Aigles Bleu in overtime at the CIS University Cup. That was just one day. This will be over a 10-day to two-week span.
As a final note, it's been a great year for coaches in their first season on the job. The Sea Dogs' Gerard Gallant joins Calgary's Mike Williamson and Tri-City's Jim Hiller as coaches who have reached a league final in their first crack with a new team.
- Saint John Sea Dogs
- Mike Hoffman