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Foligno, McQuaid together again after trade

Two helped Sudbury to memorable run during junior years

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

It's been more than a decade since Nick Foligno and Adam McQuaid authored a postseason run to remember. 

Time will tell whether the reunited duo will have such success with the Blue Jackets, but if they do, it'll create the kinds of memories the forward and defenseman have shared since their days with the Sudbury Wolves.  

In 2006-07, Foligno and McQuaid helped a Sudbury team that finished below .500, a full 30 points out of first place, make a miracle run to the OHL finals. Along the way were seven overtime wins, upsets of the top three teams in the conference, and plenty of memories that the two still hold dear to this day. 

"It's still something that I think back on pretty fondly," said McQuaid, whom the Jackets acquired at the trade deadline Feb. 25. "It was a really exciting time for us. A lot of overtime games. We always seemed to find a way. If we had a goal scored against us, we always found a way to respond right away. 

"It was a good group of guys and a fun time. Even though we've all played a lot of hockey since then, I think we all agree it still stands out in our memories." 

Foligno couldn't help but agree. 

"I think any team you're successful with, which is why I'm so excited for this (Blue Jackets) group, you remember those teams," he said. "I just remember playing with Quaider and how good of a player he was for us back then and just the memories that we have. Because of that team and how much fun we had, we'll always be connected because of that." 

In a weird way, the two reunited teammates have always had a connection. McQuaid was drafted in the second round by the Blue Jackets in 2005 and expected to be a big part of the future in Columbus, while Foligno was taken one year later as a first-round pick of Ottawa.  

The two would play three seasons of hockey in Sudbury together before each going pro after that amazing run in Sudbury, but seemingly lived reversed paths. McQuaid never played a game with Columbus as he was traded to Boston, while Foligno eventually joined the Blue Jackets organization and has worked his way up to being the team captain. 

McQuaid was 20 and Foligno 19 when they went their separate ways. When they reunited 12 years later in the Columbus locker room, it was great for each to see how their old friend had grown. 

"He's grown into a scary human from when we were 19 years old," Foligno joked. "He's married now. It's funny, but you have these separate lives, where you were together for so much at a crucial time in your life. We have such great memories of our time together in junior, but you kind of lose touch - not lose touch, but you just don't see each other as much, and then you reconnect and you catch up." 

"A lot has changed with getting married and having kids, but it's cool to come to a team and have someone you know," McQuaid said. "The coolest part about it is to see how in a lot of ways, guys are still the same. They haven't changed a whole lot. A little older, maybe a little more mature in some ways, but at the end of the day, just the same guys." 

Adding to the whole situation is the fact that Mike Foligno, Nick's dad, was the coach of that Sudbury team. When McQuaid first got to the Blue Jackets, he asked Nick, "How's coach?" and it took a second for Foligno to get that he was referring to his father. 

Mike was one of the key reasons the Wolves were able to make such a run. After a 29-30-3-6 regular season, Sudbury earned the sixth seed in the OHL Eastern Conference playoffs, but before the postseason started, Mike showed the team the film "The Secret," which focused on the power of positive thoughts and vibes and how they can help one achieve a desired result. 

Whether it was the film or the fact that a team featuring Foligno, McQuaid and Marc Staal simply jelled, but the Wolves were nearly unbeatable in the postseason. Sudbury blitzed third-seeded Mississauga in the opening round, winning the series 4-1, then stunned top-seeded Barrie in stunning fashion, winning the first three games in overtime on the way to a sweep. The Wolves then used three more OT wins, including a triple overtime clincher, to down second-seeded Belleville and make the OHL finals. 

When Sudbury won Game 3 of the J. Ross Robertson Cup series against Plymouth in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in the series, it seemed like a miracle finish was in the cards. But a Plymouth team featuring Jared Boll won the last two games in overtime, giving the Wolves a taste of their own medicine, to win the OHL and advance to the Memorial Cup. 

An alternate captain, Foligno led the team in scoring that season with 88 points and 29 more in the postseason, while McQuaid was the physical, stay-at-home defenseman he would grow into in the NHL. Twelve years later, their paths have reunited them. 

It's the type of story that happens in the small world of hockey, but it doesn't make it any less special. The smiles on the faces of Foligno and McQuaid whenever that 2007 Sudbury team is brought up help make that clear. 

"It's great," Foligno said. "It's just great to see familiar faces. It's funny how the hockey world works. You battle against each other for so long, and then you join up. It's pretty special for us." 

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