Days removed from winning his second straight President's Cup, Noah Dobson is hoping to cap off another impressive QMJHL season with a second straight Memorial Cup.
Dobson and the Huskies captured the club's second QMJHL championship in four years, defeating the Halifax Mooseheads in six games. Dobson was awarded the Guy-Lafleur Tophy as the Most Valuable Player of the QMJHL Playoffs after putting up 29 points (8G, 21A) through 20 games.
Dobson, the 12th-overall pick in 2018, put up 52 points (15G, 37A) in 56 games during in the regular season splitting the year evenly between Acadie-Bathurst and Rouyn-Noranda, arriving in Rouyn-Noranda after a midseason trade. The 19-year-old defenseman also had the opportunity to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Dobson had one goal through five games of Team Canada's sixth-place finish.
Dobson, who won a Memorial Cup last year with Acadie-Bathurst, will begin his quest for a second Memorial Cup on Saturday, May 18, as the Huskies take on the OHL champion Guelph Storm. NewYorkIslanders.com caught up with Dobson to check in on his impressive season.
NewYorkIslanders.com: What was it like to be a part of this title run with Rouyn-Noranda?
Noah Dobson: It was obviously pretty special. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to win one let alone to win two in back-to-back years. I was pretty fortunate to have a trade go through and joined a really great Rouyn-Noranda team. It's been a great transition so far. It was pretty special to win the [President's] Cup against this year.
NYI: Do you feel like you were able to draw upon your experience from last season and carry that over into this time around with the Huskies?
Dobson: Definitely. I think the experience from last year definitely helped me with playoffs this year. As you get to the bigger games you know what to expect. You've been in those moments before, so they help you down the run.
NYI: What was the transition to Rouyn-Noranda after being traded by Acadie-Bathurst?
Dobson: Going into Bathurst this year I knew there was a good chance I was going to be traded at the deadline. I was going to World Juniors and knew that was probably my last time in Bathurst. After World Juniors they finished up my trade, it went through. I was a little sad leaving Bathurst, the place I played for two years and won championships there, but I knew leaving was a great opportunity for me. The coach I had in Bathurst for those two years made the transition easy and there's a great group of guys [with Rouyn-Noranda]. They were very welcoming. Obviously, the second half was really good for our team. We went on around a 25-game win streak and went into playoffs on a high. It's been a great run so far and smooth transition. It really worked out well.
NYI: On top of the winning your second straight President's Cup, you were named the MVP of the QMJHL Playoffs and only the fifth defenseman to do so. What was receiving that recognition like?
Dobson: It's a huge honor. There's a lot of great players who went on to win that award, but without my teammates and coaches that award is not possible. I see it as a team award. My goalie is always making saves and bailing me out. My d partner and my forwards are the ones who put the puck in the net. It's obviously a huge honor, but without my teammates it wouldn't be possible.
NYI: Knowing what it takes to win the coveted Memorial Cup, how do you draw upon that insight? How does that shape your mindset going into the tournament this time around?
Dobson: Just like going into the playoffs this year, I was just a lot more comfortable going into the tournament. I know how it works and I know what to expect. This year there's some pretty stiff competition, especially at this time of the year. The teams that are playing are all there for a reason. I'm looking forward to drawing on the experience last year but knowing how important the first game is to try and get in the win column. It's going to be a great experience again. Playing back in the maritime is close to home so I'm looking forward to it.
NYI: You went head-to-head against fellow Islanders prospect Arnaud Durandeau and the Halifax Mooseheads during this series. Did you get to catch up at all?
Dobson: We were roommates throughout the [Islanders] main camp and rookie camp. I got to know him pretty well. I obviously wanted to try and one-up him and win the championship. I'm glad I did, but he had a great series. During playoffs you're not chatting too much, but I'm sure once things wind down, we'll catch up more for sure.
NYI: You both will meet again in the Memorial Cup, what did you see from his game through this series?
Dobson: He really had a breakout year. He's produced a lot offensively. He's a really good goal-scorer and strong around the front of the net. He finds the corners to pick. He's got great hands and skills. He creates a lot of offense and he continued that into the playoffs for sure. His line was one of the more consistent lines and gave us a bit of trouble. He's had a great season so far and I'm sure he'll continue that into the Memorial Cup.
NYI: You had the opportunity to represent Team Canada at World Juniors. What was that experience like playing for your country?
Dobson: It was a dream come true getting to wear the Maple Leaf. To have the opportunity to represent Team Canada and play for your country was an incredible experience. It obviously wasn't he result we wanted, but it was a dream come true.
NYI: How's the experience of competing at the international level different from league play and how do the emotions of representing your country factor in?
Dobson: It's a little different. You're happy to be representing your country. At the same time, you're trying to play your best. It'll be interesting to play against some of those teammates here in the Memorial Cup and go head-to-head against them.
Video: Mini Camp: Noah Dobson
NYI: Big time players show up in big moments, what is it about those kind of big stage games or high-stake situations that you relish in as opposed to shying away or minimizing your impact?
Dobson: As a competitor, I think you have a competitive drive where you want to show up in the big moments, you want to win those championships. As a kid, I obviously loved those high-pressure situations. With the game on the line I always wanted to be the guy that gets the puck or makes a play. Growing up, my competitive drive has always made me want to be in those situations. I've been fortunate so far to be in those situations. I strive to be a competitor and do well in those situations.
NYI: Obviously, had a very momentous year since rookie camp last summer. Looking back at this season, what are some of the takeaways or areas you feel you've matured?
Dobson: From my game side, I think I've really matured and grown into a complete defenseman, a two-way guy. My defensive game has really grown; [I'm] more physical in the corners, gotten stronger, been battling. It's something that came with getting older, having a little more experience and filling out into your body a little more. As a person, I think you can definitely grow. I had my first trade and grew from that. You're sad and then there's an adjustment period as well. Overall, it's been a great year and I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do in this stretch ahead and just continuing to improve [my game].
Top photo courtesy of Rouyn-Noranda Huskies