December 2, 2011
WASHINGTON – Another milestone was passed in the young history of the Saint John Sea Dogs Thursday, as Simon Despres became the first ex-Dog to record a point in a National Hockey League game.
The six-foot-four defenceman started the play that led to the game-winning goal for Chris Kunitz in a 2-1 Pittsburgh Penguins victory over the Washington Capitals. Despres, who played four seasons for the Sea Dogs, was making his NHL debut.
“It wasn’t the nicest assist in history but I’ll take it,” Despres, 20, told the team’s official website after the game. “It was a great first game. It was a whole lot of fun.”
For video highlights and interviews from the game, click HERE
Despres is the second alumnus of the seven-year-old franchise to skate in an NHL game, joining fellow rearguard Yann Sauve, who played five games for the Vancouver Canucks last season. Earlier this year, goalie Mathieu Corbeil dressed as a backup goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but did not see game action.
“The Sea Dogs organization is all about developing people, not just hockey players,” said team president Wayne Long. “The NHL is the ultimate dream for our players and it’s rewarding to see Simon achieve that dream. With nine NHL draft picks on our roster and several more former Sea Dogs knocking on the door at the minor pro levels, seeing Sea Dogs in the NHL will soon become a nightly occurrence.”
With injuries to defencemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, the Penguins recalled Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. He has three goals, seven points and 26 penalty minutes in 22 AHL games as a pro rookie.
A native of Laval, Que., “The Big Horse” was a mainstay on the Sea Dogs blueline after being selected first overall in the 2007 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft. He’s the all-time franchise leader for assists (109) and points (134) by a defenceman, and one of two Sea Dogs to play for Canada at the world junior championship (Chris DiDomenico is the other). His most memorable moment as a junior came when he scored the first goal in Saint John’s 3-1 win over the host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup final.
The Dogs are back at home Saturday against the Shawinigan Cataractes (7 p.m.) and Sunday against the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (3 p.m.) Tickets are available at the Harbour Station box office, by calling 506-657-1234 or online at www.tickets.harbourstation.ca.