Announced Wednesday, the Saint John Sea Dogs will host the 2022 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, marking the fourth time the club has competed in the CHL’s iconic, year-end tournament.
Different about the 2022 rendition, however, is that the Sea Dogs will be first-time hosts of the Memorial Cup following three prior trips when the club finished as the QMJHL’s playoff champion.
Here is a look back at the past three times the Sea Dogs participated in the Memorial Cup:
2011 Memorial Cup
In just their sixth season, the Sea Dogs led by then head coach Gerard Gallant and soon-to-be Florida Panthers draftee Jonathan Huberdeau finished atop the QMJHL with an astounding 58 wins and 119 points before twice sweeping their opponent and surrendering a lone loss through the first three rounds of postseason play coming against the Cape Breton Eagles, Victoriaville Tigres, and Lewiston MAINEiacs before then downing the Gatineau Olympiques in a six-game set to capture the franchise’s first President Cup as QMJHL playoff champions.
Not yet finished, Saint John then continued its winning ways at the 2011 Memorial Cup where, hosted from Mississauga, the Sea Dogs won two of three round-robin games before piecing together back-to-back 3-1 victories over the Kootenay ICE and host St. Michael’s Majors. With the victory, the Sea Dogs became the first Atlantic Canadian-based club to capture the esteemed trophy, while Huberdeau, who led the club with six points, earned the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the Memorial Cup’s most valuable player, in addition to a spot on the tournament all-star team alongside teammate Nathan Beaulieu.
In all, Huberdeau was one of a handful of players on the Sea Dogs who later established NHL careers, a group that also includes fellow forwards Stanislav Galiev and Tomas Jurco, defencemen Eric Gelinas, Simon Depres, and Beaulieu, as well as coach Gallant.
2012 Memorial Cup
The Sea Dogs returned to the Memorial Cup the following spring after putting together another dominant regular season performance in which the club finished first overall in the QMJHL with 103 points before completing a near perfect postseason in which it swept the Cape Breton Eagles, Baie-Comeau Drakkar, and Rimouski Oceanic, while surrendering a lone postseason loss to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in third-round play en route to claiming its second-straight President Cup title.
Hosted in Shawinigan, the Sea Dogs once again led by Gallant and Huberdeau put up a formidable performance in Memorial Cup play but ultimately fell short to the host Cataractes in the semi-final. The Sea Dogs weren’t without accolades, however, as centre Zach Phillips, who finished second in team scoring during the regular season with 80 points in just 60 appearances, was presented with the George Parsons Trophy as the Memorial Cup’s most sportsmanlike player after he wrapped up the tournament with four points and four penalty minutes through as many games.
After winning it all one year earlier, the Sea Dogs’ core including Beaulieu, Galiev, Huberdeau, and Jurco later went on to star in the NHL alongside 2012 addition Charlie Coyle whose lone year in the QMJHL with Saint John saw him impress with 38 points through 23 regular-season appearances before adding another 15 goals and 19 assists through 17 postseason outings.
2017 Memorial Cup
Making one more appearance at the year-end tournament in 2017, the Sea Dogs returned to the national stage in Windsor headlined by a handful of NHL drafted prospects like forward Mathieu Joseph and defenceman Thomas Chabot, who heard their names called by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, respectively, in the 2015 NHL Draft class. Furthermore, the club was also backed by productive reinforcements like budding forward Joseph Veleno who following his exceptional player status designation was chosen by Saint John with the top pick in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft.
Finishing atop the QMJHL regular season standings with 102 points – marking the fourth time in only 12 seasons the club recorded triple-digit points – the Sea Dogs cruised through the first two rounds of the postseason, picking up a combined eight-straight victories versus the Rimouski Oceanic and Val-d’Or Foreurs before toppling the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in six games to advance to the President Cup Final for the fourth time in franchise history. There, the Sea Dogs once again brought out the brooms as they ousted the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in four games to capture QMJHL supremacy.
At the 2017 Memorial Cup, however, while the club endeavored in round-robin play in coming up with one win, it ultimately fell to the Erie Otters in the semi-final. Nevertheless, the Sea Dogs iced an impressive lineup that included a host of players who ultimately advanced to hockey’s highest level, a group that included the likes of Chabot and Joseph as well as forwards Julien Gauthier and Matthew Highmore and defenceman Jakob Zboril.