MONTREAL – Saint John Sea Dogs players spent a week taking out the villain.
The day after their shock elimination by Rimouski Oceanic in the first round of the QMJHL Qualifiers on May 12, every member of the Memorial Cup home team was instructed to go home, reconnect with loved ones and forget about the game of hockey. a little. turn the page.
“I was relieved,” Captain Vincent Sevigny admitted Thursday in an interview with RDS.ca. “After that, we all went back to Saint John to do some kind of training camp.”
However, the man in charge of the ice at the TD station was no longer the same when they returned to New Brunswick. Jordi Dwyer was fired 10 days after his team failed to qualify, and gave way to Gardiner McDougall, a hired head coach called to save the Canadian League ranks for the duration of the tournament only.
“All the guys, we weren’t expecting that,” says Sévigny, the 21-year-old veteran. He’s a coach losing his job and never a thing Fun for players. »
About MacDougall, very little is known about Sévigny, except that the 62-year-old called him shortly after the deal that took him from Victoriaville Tigres to Sea Dogs to praise the merits of the Varsity Reds at the University of New Brunswick, as his final season in QMJHL looms. from its end.
We weren’t on the line to hear most of that conversation, but I bet MacDougall took the opportunity to say a word about the seven Canadian college titles the Reds have won in the 22 years under his watch.
Regularly at tournaments, where he gained an envious reputation that prompted Sea Dogs General Manager Trevor Georgie to plead for his help, MacDougall is the winner.
“It inspires confidence,” Sévigny says. When he left, he showed us his rings and listed everything he had earned. […] I don’t know how many there were [de bagues]… Seven? I don’t know, but there was a lot. »
But MacDougall isn’t just a jewelry collector with an impressive resume. As two of his former buddies recently described to us, the lovable drinker has also mastered the art of stimulating.
“He’s very visible when you talk to him, whether it’s hockey or something else,” confirms Sévigny. He is very passionate about the sport and it is really contagious. It’s active on the ice […] He has won a lot and he wants to do the same with our team. We work for the same goal, that’s the beauty. »
To achieve this goal, which is to win the Anniversary Cup on their soil after an involuntary sabbatical of 38 days, MacDougall also subjected his flock to other disciplines: rhythmic and rigorous training.
‘It’s intense,’ sums up Sévigny. You hear the name exercises And you’ll put yourself down or else you’ll skate. You have to be focused at all times. »
To make it easier to learn these exercises in such a short period of time, MacDougall named each of his exercises after one of his players.
“We are allotted a certain amount of time and if you don’t put yourself in five seconds, you’re skating,” Sévigny explains. We do band to band and then we replace ourselves with the same exercises. Thanks to skating, we’ll find out. »
In the on-and-on-ice training sessions, MacDougall has also scheduled mini-games against players from the region every three or four days, a matter of preparing his players for the enemy that awaits them.
“They were players from all over, from all over New Brunswick. From the UNB (University of New Brunswick) world, the East Coast League. Even Philip Myers (an advocate for the Nashville Predators) came in,” Sevigny recounts.
“The goal is to get top shape When the disk hits the ice on June 20, we don’t rust and wonder where to go on the ice. Find your party habits. »
Sévigny and the Sea Dogs will have their first chance against the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Memorial Cup opening Monday night to prove that they will be nothing but a welcoming host. Preliminary round matches against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday and the Shawinigan Cataracts on Saturday will then follow.
“We know this is our last chance to prove what our team can do, and we don’t want to miss it.”