Sea Dogs Win 2011 Memorial Cup


MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- As the final seconds ticked down in the MasterCard Memorial Cup final Sunday, Jacob DeSerres scooped up the puck, and instead of celebrating the Saint John Sea Dogs' 3-1 triumph against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, the goalie simply held it, almost in a state of shock.

Even as his teammates charged off the bench to him, the championship feeling, something the 21-year-old believed he would never experience, hadn't sunk in yet.

A year ago, DeSerres allowed every goal in the Brandon Wheat Kings' 9-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup final. In October, the Wheat Kings waived DeSerres, an overage player, and the Sea Dogs inked him.

On Sunday, DeSerres dazzled, stopping 34 shots as the Sea Dogs earned the first championship in their 6-year history. Now he calls the whirlwind year a "fairy tale." Forgive him if he wasn't quite ready to celebrate. Read more

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Gerard Gallant

Scott Fleming

Stuart Percy

JP Anderson

Latest Memorial Cup Interviews


Jesse Blacker

Robby Mignardi

Scott Stajcer

Kris Knoblauch & Mark Reeds

Matt Fraser

Erik Benoit

Nathan Lieuwen

Attack Eliminated From Memorial Cup


MISSISSAUGA, ON – After falling behind by two goals, the Ice quickly recovered and registered six unanswered markers to go on to a 7-3 victory over the Owen Sound Attack and clinch a berth in the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup semi-final game.

Owen Sound opened the scoring at 7:12 when Cameron Brace scooped up a loose puck in the crease and easily pushed it behind goaltender Nathan Lieuwen.

Kootenay got a great opportunity to tie the game up at one with a two-man advantage with a few minutes left in the first, but they were unable to capitalize. After being unrelenting even with two players in the box, the Attack doubled their lead with a Jesse Blacker marker at 18:45.

The Ice offense got going in a big way in the second period. Erik Benoit directed the puck with his skate onto his stick and pushed it past Scott Stajcer at 7:48. Less than thirty seconds later, Kootenay tied the game up. Joe Antilla blasted a shot that beat the Owen Sound goaltender on his glove side. Finally, Matt Fraser helped the Ice go up 3-2 with a power-play goal at 11:14.

Matt Fraser, Cody Eakin and Max Reinhart each scored in the first five minutes of play of the third period to put the game well out of reach at 6-3.

At that point, Owen Sound made a goaltending change and brought in Jordan Binnington.

But it was too little too late. Mike Halmo and Cody Eakin scored goals before it was all said and done. Matt Fraser earned first star honours with his three-point showing.

The 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup semi-final goes Friday night as the Kootenay Ice battle the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors live on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS starting at 7 pm.

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Brayden McNabb

Kris Knoblauch

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Blacker, Attack Fall To Majors, Now Face Must Win


MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- With nothing working on the power play, Rob Flick decided to just throw it on net.

Flick wasn't trying to score but his shot with a two-man advantage late in the second period turned out to be the winner as the Mississiauga St. Michael's Majors gained a measure of revenge Wednesday with a 3-1 win over the Owen Sound Attack.

``We weren't getting any chances,'' Flick said. ``So I thought when I got the puck I'd just fire it on net and get a rebound. I caught the goalie leaning a bit and luckily it went under his glove.''

``Any time you get a 5-on-3 it's crucial to score. You have to really bear down and get quality chances.''

With the game tied 1-1, Owen Sound took two interference penalties on the same play. First, Shaw upended Casey Cizikas at centre ice with a low hip check and then Mike Halmo checked goalie J.P. Anderson as he was trying to make it to the bench for the extra attacker. Read the full story here

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Riley Brace

Jordan Binnington

Blacker Post Game

Jesse Blacker

Burke Talks Blacker, the draft, Clarke MacArthur & more

Brian Burke

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Jesse Blacker

Cody Eakin

Nathan Beaulieu

Stuart Percy

Jesse Blacker Post Game Interview

Blue And White Aspirations
-- Mike Ulmer

Leafs against Los Angeles Kings. Spring of 1993. I think you know where this is going.

Third round of the playoffs. Wayne Gretzky’s stick cuts Doug Gilmour. Referee Kerry Fraser makes the most famous non-call in Maple Leafs history. Saved by Gretzky’s stature in Game 6, the Leafs are done in by his stick in Game 7 in Toronto.

Stuart Percy, now a member of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors team contesting the Memorial Cup is precisely nine days old when Fraser blows the call.

No one said this was going to be easy.

Four years later his dad, Steve, rolls out some new wallpaper and splays it across the wall of his son’s bedroom. The wallpaper is blue and white with the Leafs logo.

By now, Stuart is wearing Leaf jerseys on which his grandmother sews numbers. He has Maple Leaf mittens and he insists on falling asleep, still in uniform, in front of the Leafs’ game. He has a little Leafs hockey stick that he uses to chase around a ball of tape which periodically irritates his grandfather who prefers an unobstructed view of the set.

Any wonder then that Stuart Percy would love to be selected by the Maple Leafs at the NHL draft next month.

“That would be awesome, a dream come true,” he said.

Percy, a six-foot-two defence-first rearguard is ranked 53rd among North American skaters. The Leafs have two late first-rounders, a second and two thirds. Who knows?

This has all come about organically. His dad Steve worked as a vendor, trolling through the crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens selling popcorn, pop and souvenirs and the family love affair with the team shows no signs of wear. At 18, Stuart still sleeps surrounded by the Leaf wallpaper under the protective gaze of Mats Sundin and Tie Domi. He still has the little toy stick.

There is no record, of course, as to whether little Stuart Percy was in the TV room in Oakville when Kerry Fraser elected not to raise his striped right arm. One question has been answered, though.

“I guess,” said his dad, “this is why Stuart has always been impatient with bad refereeing.”

A Long Way From Home
--Mike Ulmer

Wrapped in the flannel of the top-ranked junior hockey team in Canada are a Russian, a Slovak, seven Quebecers, six kids from New Brunswick, three from Nova Scotia, two kids from Ottawa and, somehow, Nathan Beaulieu, now and forever from Strathroy, Ontario.

Beaulieu and the rest of the QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs are one of four teams contesting the MasterCard Memorial Cup over the next week at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Beaulieu’s presence on the club is something of a legacy gift. His father is former coach and General Manager Jacques Beaulieu and when dad parted way with the team before the 2009-2010 season, his son was already a promising defenceman on the team.

“My dad took the job when I was 13 years old. I got drafted in the Q (QMJHL) so I can’t go back to the O (OHL) and that’s fine with me,” he said. “Hockey is hockey no matter where you play.”

The Dogs dressing room is awash in its own patois.

“You have a bit of everything here, Slovakian, Russian, English, French. When your team gels, it doesn’t matter what language you speak,” said Beaulieu. “The French guys know a little English, the Russian guys know a bit. We’re all comfortable with each other.”

Kootenay is the only one of the four clubs to use entirely homegrown players. If the notion of only local boys playing for the town hockey club is outdated, so too is the characterization of the Western, Ontario and Quebec –based major junior leagues.

“My experience has been the leagues are a lot closer in style of play now than they ever were,” said Mike Kelly, the director of hockey operations for the Sea Dogs.”Maybe 20-30 years ago, you might have considered the west as the big, tough intimidating sort of league and the Q might have been more freewheeling and Ontario more of a mix but not anymore.

“The kids right now are so well-coached and so-well prepared and the changes in the game have dictated teams are going to be similar across the nation.”

There is little difference, he said, between kids from Minsk and Montreal.

“We’ve had our kids together for the most part for two or three years now,” Kelly said. “Once you’re a family, you’re a family.”

But you’re a family with members from far away including a small farming town dropped from the sky between Sarnia and London.

“I was a Detroit Red Wing fan, huge,” Beaulieu said, “but growing up in Ontario the Leafs are always in the back of your mind as well. I’m an Ontario guy and I never shot down the Leafs. I’ll always back them up.”

He will not play for them, it seems. At six-foot-three, Beaulieu is ranked fifth among North Americans on the Central Scouting List. The Maple Leafs lowest pick is 25th, likely way too far way to hope for Beaulieu. Brian Burke has spoken of trying to move up.

“He’s a young man who has got some natural offensive ability and for a defenceman that’s difficult to find,” Kelly said. “Where he is really grown is the defensive part of the game. When he is real competitive defensively he is a very good player. His game has never been less than good.”

Beaulieu says individual success can’t be earned by any individual.

“Right now my focus is to win this tournament,” he said. “With team success comes personal success."

And when it is over, he will head back to Strathroy.

“I miss everything about home, my friends,” he said. “I still keep in touch with everybody. It’s my hometown.”

One On One With Jesse Blacker
--Mike Ulmer

Jesse Blacker is the last member of the Maple Leafs organization standing.

The Owen Sound Attack defenceman is the only Leafs prospect in the MasterCard Memorial Cup which begins Friday night with Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors facing the Saint John Sea Dogs at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. writer Mike Ulmer caught up with the only member of the Attack to own a Memorial Cup ring. Blacker won a title at the 2009 Cup in Rimouski while a member of the Windsor Spitfires.

Drafted in the second round by the Maple Leafs in 2009, Blacker scored 10 goals and recorded 54 points while recording a plus 17 this season.

Mike Ulmer: How does it feel to be the last guy standing?

Jesse Blacker: I don’t think too much about being the last guy. I’m more focused on winning this thing but I will admit I was speaking to Brad Ross (a Leafs prospect with Portland) and we agreed how fun it would have been to play against each other here.

Mike Ulmer
: Many of the players at this tournament have been drafted by NHL teams. Many are hoping that a good performance will put them into the draft or push them higher.  Is it harder to justify a past pick, earn a new one or perform in front of your own scouts.

Jesse Blacker: I don’t know what is easier or harder. Draft eligible players might have a little more pressure on them.  There are two scouts here for every game and you are the only guy playing now. There’s a lot of pressure to perform. On the flip side, if you are drafted, there is someone from your team watching you.

Mike Ulmer: What effect does that have?

Jesse Blacker:  It does put a bit more pressure but it drives me to play a little bit better, work a little harder and keep playing the same style that has been successful.

Mike Ulmer: You have been very successful in junior hockey.   How ready are you to and continue your development with the Toronto Marlies?

Jesse Blacker: I think every player would want to take that next step and I think I’m ready to take it.

Mike Ulmer
: Tell me about your play this year.

Jesse Blacker: This year has been a big year in terms of playing a shut-down role, but in doing so I got more points than I have in other years. I learned a lot this year from our coaches. I’ve learned defence first and offence when you can.

Mike Ulmer: How much were you able to watch the Leafs this winter?

Jesse Blacker:  I definitely watched. It’s somewhere you want to play and that’s a way to get better, watch the present level. It’s an exciting thing to be part of a team going in the right direction.

Mike Ulmer From Memorial Cup Media Day
05/19/11's Mike Ulmer was at the Memorial Cup media day on Thursday. He looks at how the Mississauga Majors will be looking for redemption after having lost the OHL Championship to the Owen Sound Attack.

This is also a big tournament for many draft eligible players. The Saint John Sea Dogs have nine players that could be drafted in the June draft. They are probably the most explosive team in the tournament.

The team that is lying in the weeds is the Kootenay Ice. They weren't even ranked in the Top 10 in the CHL this season and they lost just three times in the post season.

It is never easy trying to predict a winner when only two teams have faced each other this season. It will come down to whoever plays the best over the next 10 days.

Read the full preview here

Pics From Memorial Cup Media Day

Majors defenceman Stuart Percy chats with's Mike Ulmer

Majors captain Casey Cizikas speaks to the media on Thursday

The Kootenay Ice prepare for practice

Entering the media centre at the Hershey Centre

All the team media guides for the media to use for research

The podium that the players and coaches will speak from throughout the tournament

Mike Ulmer doing research for his upcoming story

The Owen Sound Attack

The Owen Sound Attack are one of the deepest teams at the Memorial Cup this season. They won their first OHL title in 22 years when they defeated the Mississauga Majors and heading into the tournament, they are one of the favourites.

Leafs prospect Jesse Blacker is a key player for the Attack power play which clicked at a 31 per cent rate during the OHL final against the Majors. Read more on the Attack

Mississauga Majors Practice Video

Here is practice video from the Mississauga Majors on Wednesday:

Justin Shugg

Joseph Cramarossa

Brett Flemming