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Despres and the Sea Dogs Win Memorial Cup

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Back when Simon Despres earned the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)’s Best Defenseman, Penguins GM Ray Shero said the team still had one goal left for the young blueliner.

That was to help his team – the Saint John Sea Dogs – win the league championship, called the President’s Cup.

Well, not only did Despres help the Sea Dogs win the QMJHL championship on May 15, but he also helped them take it one step further.

On Sunday night, Despres netted a shorthanded tally to open the scoring just 2:24 into the final game of the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament to lead Saint John to a 3-1 victory over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).


He was named the game’s Second Star to cap off an incredible season for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound defenseman.

The win gave Saint John their first-ever Memorial Cup title in their sixth year of existence, coming off the heels off their first-ever President’s Cup.

The Sea Dogs – based in Saint John, New Brunswick – have also become the first team from Atlantic Canada and the Maritime Provinces to win the major junior hockey championship since its inception in 1919.

On the goal, Despres – the Penguins’ first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft – picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and carried down the ice. Despite being held to the outside by a Majors defenseman, Despres managed to snipe a wrist shot from the left circle far side past Mississauga goalie JP Anderson.

Zack Phillips – NHL Central Scouting’s No. 15-ranked North American skater for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft – and Jonathan Huberdeau, Central Scouting's No. 3 prospect and the MVP of the tournament, also scored for the Sea Dogs. Saint John goalie Jacob DeSerres made 34 saves.

The Sea Dogs qualified for the final by going 2-1-0 in round-robin play, including a 4-3 win against the Majors in the tournament opener. Since Saint John earned a berth to the final in just their second game, a 3-2 overtime win over the Owen Sound Attack (OHL), they had a four-day layoff prior to Sunday’s match.

The Memorial Cup is the championship of major junior hockey, which sees the champions from each league – the QMJHL, OHL and Western Hockey League (WHL) – compete in tournament play, along with the host team.

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