The Saint John Sea Dogs held their 2018-2019 Season Launch Press Conference on Tuesday morning. A number of topics were discussed including the upcoming season, the future outlook of the team, and Memorial Cup aspirations.
TEAM OUTLOOK AND PLAYER RECRUITMENT
Sea Dogs President & General Manager, Trevor Georgie and Head Coach, Josh Dixon addressed the media in attendance. Other members of the Sea Dogs management and coaching staff present for media were Assistant GM & Head Scout Anthony Stella, Associate Coach Jeff Cowan, Assistant Coach Stefan Legein, and Goaltending & Video Coach Brian Fleming.
“We are entering our 14th season this week and have a rich tradition of respecting the junior hockey cycle and winning” said Georgie. “We have our own Sea Dogs blueprint that we have followed this off-season and will continue to follow. We spent our off-season focused on not only executing three strong drafts but we were relentless in our recruitment efforts. Players and parents are realizing that you do not have to pick between education or hockey with us, our management team and staff not only care, but are deeply invested in both. We can also back it up with our own life experiences.”
MOST 1st AND 2ND ROUND PICKS IN NEXT TWO DRAFTS (2019, 2020)
Georgie acknowledged the hard work by his scouting staff led by Stella and the recruitment efforts and support by Dixon and his staff.
“Just like our last two cycles, we will be patient with a capital “P”. We have six of the top 30 prospects from the 2018 draft committed to us, that’s a first in our League. We had six players at Canada’s U17 Development Camp this summer, the only team in the Country to have that. We also have the most first and second round picks over the next two drafts, 9 total. The future is bright and we will not deviate from the blueprint.”
FIVE 16-YEAR OLDS IN 2018-2019 AND BUILDING FOR 2022 MEMORIAL CUP
After being granted QMJHL approval for one extra exemption, the Sea Dogs will begin the season with five 16-year old players in their lineup. The standard maximum is four. William Villeneuve, Jeremy Poirier, Joshua Lawrence, Brady Burns, and Charlie Desroches will all be full-time with the team. This does not include other 16-year-olds who are affiliated, such as recent commit, and New Brunswick native, Dawson Stairs.
“Opening night on Friday, we will be the youngest team in the Canadian Hockey League. The average age of our roster is 17.5 years old. We will exercise patience and with patience comes reward, as we have seen here before. We have an elite nucleus of rookies that will be 19 years old the next time the QMJHL is hosting the Memorial Cup. We are fixated on our goal to not only have a team ready to compete for it, but host it here in Saint John.”
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT NOTES
The Sea Dogs are in the process of having their locker room updated, the first time a major renovation has been done to the room since the AHL’s Saint John Flames were tenants. It will include a new gym and video room. Both Georgie and Dixon highlighted the 2018 Development Camp and Hall of Fame Weekend as being important for development and culture setting. Also mentioned a number of times was the composition of the coaching staff and the addition of Assistant Coach Stefan Legein in the off-season.
“This season is all about culture “said Dixon. “The right culture is so important. It’s the foundation of the team. We need to ensure that players are surrounded by the right leadership group, which we have. We need it to be a positive environment, a learning environment, one where players are coming to the rink to get better every day. Our theme this season for the group is “embrace the grind”. It’s going to be a talented team but a young team, so it is going to be tough and we need to embrace it.”
BOUCHER SAYS TEAM WILL COMPETE EVERY SHIFT, TEAM BUILDING WITH MILITARY HELPED
Members of the Sea Dogs leadership group also spoke with the media, including Anthony Boucher, Michael Campoli, William Poirier, and Nathan Larose.
“We have a young team but the young guys have a ton of skill and love coming to the rink” said overage Sea Dogs forward Anthony Boucher. “The team has already gotten close with the different team builders like the one with the Military base last week. We are going to be young but we will be exciting to watch. We don’t care how young we are, we will compete every shift and want to win every game.”
Last week the Sea Dogs participated in a military camp in Gagetown. They stayed overnight on the base and received leadership lessons from members of the military who served in Afghanistan. Physically, they did a number of challenging team builders on the base, and participated in a 5K Terry Fox run. 17-year-old Sea Dog Aiden MacIntosh finished 3rd out of a few thousand participants.