Stephen MacAulay has a lot at stake in what many predict will be a lengthy QMJHL playoff run for the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The 17-year-old left-winger from Cole Harbour will hit the ice with the Sea Dogs — a first-place team that went 53-12-3 for 109 points — in the best-of-seven first round of the playoffs against the P.E.I. Rocket starting tomorrow in Saint John, N.B.
He’s ranked 72nd among North Americans for the NHL entry draft by Central Scouting and hopes to prove himself as a worthy selection to scouts.
“It always helps if your team does well and if you’re one of the last few teams remaining,” MacAulay said.
“The further we go, the better chance I’ll have of being drafted, so we’ll see.”
MacAulay, one of four Nova Scotians with the Sea Dogs, patrols the third line along with Danick Gauthier and captain Mike Thomas, who is currently suspended.
The six-foot-two 174-pounder’s name isn’t in the spotlight much with the powerful Sea Dogs, but he’s embraced the tasks assigned to him by head coach Gerard Gallant.
“I was given this role at the start of the year,” said MacAulay, a former Cole Harbour McCains standout who had eight goals and 13 assists along with a plus-18 rating in 56 games.
“I knew I’d be a checking, energy, PK (penalty-killing) guy.
“I knew what I was getting into and I tried every day to focus on that and work on that instead of focusing on stuff I’m not asked to do.”
The Sea Dogs, who had a sluggish finish with four losses in their last six games, don’t expect it to be a cakewalk against the Rocket, despite winning the season series 5-3.
The Rocket hoped to be a top contender this season but didn’t like the direction of the team and traded off star forwards such as Joel Champagne and Chris Doyle at mid-season.
They proceeded to better their record in the second half.
“They play well against us,” MacAulay said. “They’re a good, structured team, they play hard, and we can’t take them lightly, that’s for sure.”