After all, the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League didn’t have any games on Saturday or Sunday after the Windsor Spitfires swept the Barrie Colts out of the playoffs and the Calgary Hitmen took out the Tri-City Americans in five games.
The Spitfires wrapped up their series last Tuesday with a decisive 6-2 victory over a rattled Barrie. Calgary finished off the Americans on Friday with an equally strong 6-1 showing.
This leaves just the Moncton Wildcats and the Saint John Sea Dogs to settle the outcome of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup.
Moncton has a 3-2 edge on the series, but it would be foolhardy to count the Sea Dogs out just yet. After all, Saint John skated to the regular season championship with a 53-12-3 record, five points ahead of the second place Drummondville Voltigeurs and seven points beyond the Wildcats.
Their regular season match-ups were very close, with a 4-3-1 record tilting in favour of the Sea Dogs. That said, five of those games went to extra time, so this is a decidedly close pairing.
For one of these teams to prevail and face the Brandon Wheat Kings, Hitmen or Windsor in the Memorial Cup tournament they’ll need their defence to step up.
In their five games, the lowest shot count was Saint John’s 26 in Game 1. Since then, totals have routinely been above 30, with some games seeing as many as 44 shots on net.
Both teams from New Brunswick need to bear down and slow down the game’s pace if they want to survive.
For Moncton to achieve this they’ll need defencemen Mark Barberio, David Savard and Brandon Gormley to continue to lock down the Sea Dogs’ best forwards.
Saint John will look to winger Nicholas Petersen as well as rearguards Nathan Beaulieu and Yann Sauve to be lights out in their own end.