It’s a battle of Cats and Dogs that’s almost too good to be true.
The first-ever all-New Brunswick, all-Maritime final in QMJHL history begins on Friday, with the first-place Saint John Sea Dogs hosting the third-place Moncton Wildcats in what could be a memorable showdown for the President’s Cup.
“These are two high-calibre teams that are an hour and 15 minutes apart,” said Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant. “It’s perfect. They’re going to be full houses and there’s going to be a lot of good hockey played.
“It should be a great series.”
The hype around the series has been building for weeks since it became apparent the two stacked teams — with 53 and 48 wins, respectively — were on a collision course.
Gallant said one of the biggest keys will be keeping a team full of teenagers focused on the task at hand.
“You talk to the kids and you say, ‘There’s going to be a lot going on outside the rink with the fans and your families … But you’ve got to be ready to play when the puck is dropped,’” he explained. “The team that comes out on top is (going to be) the one that’s focused, prepared and ready to play.”
The Sea Dogs feature four Halifax-area products: Forwards Stephen MacAulay (Cole Harbour), Steven Anthony (Halifax), and Michael Kirkpatrick (former Dartmouth Subway) and defenceman Christian Morin (Dartmouth).
Dartmouth’s Danny Flynn is the Wildcats’ head coach and general manager, while forward Andrew Roski of Halifax appeared in three playoff games, but now is out for the season after needing shoulder surgery.
Wildcats captain Scott Brannon hails from Churchville, Pictou Co.