MONTREAL – Saint John Sea Dogs players have had a week to bring out the bad guy.
The day after the surprise elimination at the hands of the Rimouski Océanic in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs on May 12, each member of the Memorial Cup host team was instructed to return home, reconnect with loved ones and forget about the hockey for a bite. Turn the page.
“It was great,” admitted Captain Vincent Sévigny in an interview with RDS.ca on Thursday. “After that, we all went back to Saint John to do some sort of training camp. “
However, the man in charge of the ice at TD station was no longer the same when they returned to New Brunswick. Fired 10 days after his team failed in the playoffs, Gordie Dwyer had given way to Gardiner MacDougall, a hired head coach called to the rescue of Canadian university ranks only for the duration of the tournament.
“All the players, we didn’t expect it,” says Sévigny, a 21-year veteran. He is a coach who loses his job and is never something the fun for gamers. “
Of MacDougall, Sévigny knew very little, except that the 62-year-old man phoned him shortly after the transaction that took him from the Victoriaville Tigres to Sea Dogs to praise the merits of the Varsity Reds program at the University of New Brunswick, while his last season in the QMJHL was drawing to a close.
We weren’t in 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 22 years under his watch.
A regular at tournaments, where he has built an envious reputation that prompted Sea Dogs CEO Trevor Georgie to ask him for help, MacDougall is a winner.
“Inspire confidence in us,” says Sévigny. As she left, she showed us his rings and listed everything she had won. […] I don’t know how many there were [de bagues]… Seven? I don’t know, but there were a lot of them. “
But MacDougall isn’t just a jewelry collector with a brilliant track record. As two of his former proteges recently described to us, the cute mustachioed also masters the art of motivation.
“He’s very visible when you talk to him, whether it’s hockey or something else,” confirms Sévigny. He is very passionate about this sport and it is something truly contagious. He is energetic on the ice […] He has often won and wants to do the same with our team. We work towards the same goal, that’s what’s beautiful. “
To achieve this goal, which is to win the Memorial Cup at home after a long involuntary 38-day leave, MacDougall also subjected his flock to another of his specialties: rhythmic and rigorous training.
“It’s intense, summarizes Sévigny. You hear the name of drill and you will place yourself otherwise you are skating. You have to be focused at all times. “
To make it easier to learn them in such a short time, MacDougall named each of his exercises after one of his players.
“We are given a certain amount of time and if you don’t place yourself within five seconds, skate,” explains Sévigny. We make bands for bands and then we substitute for the same drill. By dint of skating, we will find out. “
In training sessions on and off the ice, MacDougall has also scheduled shooting matches against players from the region every three or four days, a matter of preparing his players for the sprint that awaits them.
“They were players from all over the world, from all over New Brunswick. From the world of UNB (University of New Brunswick), East Coast League. Philippe Myers (a defender of the Nashville Predators organization) also came, “Sévigny lists.
“The goal is to arrive top form because when the puck hits the ice on June 20, we don’t get rusty and we don’t 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 at the Memorial Cup opener on Monday night to show that they will be anything but welcoming hosts. Preliminary round matches against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday and the Shawinigan Cataractes on Saturday will follow.
“We know this is our last chance to show what our team can do and we don’t want to lose it. “