Me­mo­rial Cup flash­back

Hu­berdeau, Sea Dogs win first and only ju­nior cham­pi­onship back in 2011

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY KYLE CICERELLA

Jonathan Hu­berdeau re­mem­bers the Saint John Sea Dogs’ only Me­mo­rial Cup cham­pi­onship all too well.

Saint John held a 2-1 lead late in the 2011 tour­na­ment fi­nal against the On­tario Hockey League’s Mis­sis­sauga St. Michael’s Ma­jors.

Hu­berdeau broke free, took a pass on a 2-on-1 from line­mate Zack Phillips and went forehand to back­hand with less than four min­utes to play to give his team the as­sur­ance that the Cana­dian Hockey League’s big­gest prize would be theirs for the first time in team his­tory.

“He made a re­ally good pass to me and that kind of closed the deal a lit­tle bit,” said Hu­berdeau. “There was still three min­utes left but you’re way more con­fi­dent up two goals than one.”

Hu­berdeau and his Sea Dogs were a pow­erhouse in 2010-11, fin­ish­ing the regular season a league-best 58-7-3 be­fore cruis­ing their way to the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League cham­pi­onship.

Saint John was coached by Ve­gas Golden Knights’ Ger­ard Gal­lant that season, and the roster was deep in NHL prospects.

Hu­berdeau was the top one at the 2011 NHL Draft, be­ing se­lected third over­all by Florida.

De­fence­man Nathan Beaulieu went 17th to Mon­treal while Phillips wound up be­ing Saint John’s third player to go in Round 1 when Minnesota took him 28th.

Winger To­mas Jurco went in the sec­ond round, 35th to Detroit, while soon-to-be NHL blue lin­ers Eric Geli­nas and

Si­mon De­spres were drafted the pre­vi­ous year.

“We had a spe­cial team, we knew we had a good chance to win and that’s what we did,” said Hu­berdeau. “That was a re­ally fun time. Even now we still hang out with each other, that says a lot.”

The 2011 season was an im­por­tant one for Hu­berdeau, who set the new team stan­dard with 105 points in 67 games as a 17-year-old.

The Saint-Jerome, Que., na­tive earned QMJHL play­off MVP af­ter lead­ing Saint John to its first league ti­tle in fran­chise his­tory. He fol­lowed that up as Me­mo­rial Cup MVP, then went to the NHL com­bine be­fore at­tend­ing the NHL Draft, where the Pan­thers made him a Top-3 se­lec­tion.

“You didn’t even have time to re­al­ize it or time to even think about win­ning the Me­mo­rial Cup (in the mo­ment), but it was a pretty good year for me,” said Hu­berdeau.

This season Saint John is mak­ing its third ap­pear­ance at a Me­mo­rial Cup af­ter breez­ing through the QMJHL play­offs. They will play the On­tario Hockey League’s Erie Ot­ters in the semi­fi­nal tonight.

Hu­berdeau has con­tin­ued to fol­low the Sea Dogs since turn­ing pro in 2012 and made it out to a few home dates in the post­sea­son to sup­port the or­ga­ni­za­tion he spent parts of four sea­sons play­ing for.

“I’m watch­ing them a lot,” said Hu­berdeau. “It’s fun to al­ways fol­low your team and it’s great they have a chance to win this year.”

Five play­ers from the 201011 Saint John team went on to play full time in the NHL, and Hu­berdeau cap­tured the Calder Tro­phy as NHL rookie of the year in 2013.

CP PHOTO

Saint John Sea Dogs’ Jonathan Hu­berdeau hoists the Me­mo­rial Cup af­ter de­feat­ing the Mis­sis­sauga St. Michael’s Ma­jors in the Me­mo­rial Cup fi­nal in Mis­sis­sauga, Ont. on May 29, 2011.

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