The Sea Canine Hidden Map

After 38 days of preparation, Saint-Jean Sea Dogs will finally have the chance to show that their first-round elimination against Rimouski Océanic was just a mistake on Monday night. This is also where we’ll see if Gardiner MacDougall’s magic will work.

When they fired Gordie Dwyer a few weeks before the Memorial Cup tournament, many expected the Saint John Sea Dogs to announce with great fanfare that a big name was joining the team.

• Read too: Memorial Cup: who will take home the precious trophy?

The names of Alain Vigneault, Michel Therrien and even Dominique Ducharme circulated, but we soon learned it was MacDougall they were targeting.

The longtime head coach of the University of New Brunswick Reds has agreed to take over the reins of the team, on an interim basis, until the tournament’s conclusion.

At that moment, several people in Quebec raised their eyebrows.

However, in New Brunswick – and the Atlantic Provinces in general – MacDougall’s name is well known.

“At the Maritimes, he’s a hockey legend,” says hockey player Matthew Boucher, who spent two seasons under MacDougall at UnB between 2018 and 2020 before making the leap to the pros.

DEMANDING

One thing is for sure, MacDougall has a solid track record. Head coach of the Reds since the 2000-2001 season, he led the team to a college title seven times, including this season. He is also involved in the development of young players at Marítimo and has lectured at various training conferences in Canada and the United States.

For Boucher, his naming and the surrounding context couldn’t make more sense.

“Gardiner comes from a college program where you have time to prepare between games. It’s a bit like the Sea Dogs. He’s an extremely demanding guy and I’ve heard that training hasn’t been very pleasant at Sea Dogs since his arrival. When I played for him, training on and off the ice was demanding. We did sprints, climbed hills. He’s a guy who really believes in maximizing effort. For him, defeat is non-negotiable. »

In his eyes, there is no doubt that the Sea Dogs’ preparation will be great on June 20, when they will face the Hamilton Bulldogs, current OHL champions.

“He sees things on two points: he wants to have the best prepared team, but also the fittest in the league. It worked out because in two years at UnB, I think we only lost the third period once”, recalls Boucher.

A UNIQUE PERSONALITY

MacDougall achieved his status in the Maritimes not only for his results, but also for his striking personality.

Boucher can also testify to this.

“He’s a guy who has a different approach to all the coaches I’ve worked with in my life. His preparation is phenomenal and he always makes sure the guys are mentally right. »

But it was before joining UNB that Boucher really understood what Gardiner MacDougall stood for. And the anecdote is tasty.

After his final season with the Remparts, Boucher wanted to make the leap to the pros. For him, college hockey would be a plan B if he couldn’t find a professional contract.

“He followed my plan. Later my father had spoken to Roger Shannon [le directeur général des Wildcats de Moncton à cette époque], and Roger said to him, “Let him come to your house and sit in your living room. Let him work his magic and your guy won’t be able to say no,” he says.

And the magic worked.

“He picked me up on a private jet and flew me to Fredericton. Once there, he sat me down at a restaurant with ten guys on the staff, dropped me off his credit card, and wished us good night. »

Ultimately, Boucher played two seasons with MacDougall, winning the college championship in 2018-19.

It remains to be seen if the magic will work with Sea Dogs.

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