Dartmouth’s Danny Flynn has a chance to win his first Memorial Cup as a head coach in Brandon, Man.
The Moncton Wildcats bench boss and general manager, winner of the 1993 Memorial Cup as an associate coach with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, leads his team into this year’s 10-day event on Saturday against the Calgary Hitmen.
Flynn made a flurry of mid-season trades after benefiting from the unexpected return of star goalie Nicola Riopel from the professional ranks. His moves lifted the Wildcats to their second QMJHL title in five years.
“The mindset in the Quebec league is different (from the Ontario league) in that at Christmas, virtually every team is a buyer or a seller,” Flynn said. “We knew going forward once Riopel came back from the American Hockey League that if we were going to try and make some noise in the playoffs, we were going to have to try and get a little older, particularly up front.”
Nicolas Deschamps, acquired from Chicoutimi, tied for the league lead in scoring; Kelsey Tessier, picked up from Quebec, had 30 points in 21 playoff games; and Gabriel Bourque, nabbed from Baie-Comeau, scored 19 goals among 29 points in the post-season and was named MVP.
But injuries to Deschamps in the championship series and highly-touted Russian Kirill Kabanov didn’t slow the Wildcats down whatsoever.
“At no point in our 90-plus games have we ever had our full lineup and for us to beat the No. 1 team in the league in the final without the league scoring champion was a significant accomplishment,” Flynn said.
“We had an awful lot of young guys that really had to lift their game and take on increased roles and they responded quite well. We’ll be a better team for that at the Cup.”
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