“We didn’t play our best game. Not even close to it.”
And with that quote from Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Nathan Beaulieu, the other three teams taking part in the MasterCard Memorial Cup cringed.
No, the Sea Dogs’ game wasn’t perfect, but they certainly played well. Well enough to knock off the host Mississauga Majors 4-3 in game that featured some controversial officiating: plenty of questionable calls, and even more missed ones.
If Saint John can regroup in practice and come out with a better effort, it will be difficult for any team in the tournament to take them down.
What makes the Saint John Sea Dogs such an incredible story is quite simply their age. While each team has between ten and fifteen players born either in 1992 or later, it’s the Sea Dogs top players that are young. Outside of Simon Depres, the Pittsburgh Penguins 30th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft, the Sea Dogs’ top players haven’t yet been drafted.
Saint John boasts an incredible nine draft-eligible players in the upcoming 2011 NHL Draft, six of whom are ranked in the Top 50 amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The Mississauga Majors and Owen Sound Attack both have three draft-eligibles on their roster, while the Kootenay Ice only have two.
The top Sea Dog is #3 ranked Jonathan Huberdeau, followed by the aforementioned Beaulieu at #5, Zack Phillips at #15, and Czech-import Tomas Jurco at #20.
Seriously, is it possible to declare the Saint John Sea Dogs as the favorites to win the MasterCard Memorial Cup next year?
Huberdeau and Beaulieu both finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Jurco added a nifty breakaway tally.
While his performance on Friday evening certainly could not have hurt his draft stock, Jonathan Huberdeau was quick to point out the double-edged sword that is big-stage exposure in the postgame media scrum; great play will elevate your status to top prospect, but a couple bad games and you can drop significantly in the draft rankings.
Regardless, Huberdeau and his Sea Dogs are off to an excellent start, and will be looking to extend their success when they face off against the Owen Sound Attack on Monday.
Tonight: Owen Sound Attack vs. Kootenay Ice, 7:00PM at Hershey Centre.
Justin Fisher is a staff blogger for SteveDangle.com, and co-host of The Steve Dangle Show radio program.
Follow Justin on Twitter: @thejustinfisher.