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Despres Wins QMJHL Championship

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins prospect Simon Despres added another accolade to his already impressive season on Sunday – league champion.

Despres and the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) won the team’s first-ever President’s Trophy by defeating the Gatineau Olympiques in double overtime, 3-2, in Game 6 of the league championship series.

Despres – who earned the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL’s Best Defenseman in the regular season – put forth an outstanding overall playoff performance for the Sea Dogs as the 19-year-old blueliner scored 12 points (4G-8A) through 19 games.

The Penguins’ first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft produced his best hockey during the championship series, starting by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of Game 1 to give the Sea Dogs a 2-1 victory.

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Despres capped that performance off by scoring both Saint John goals in a 3-2 loss to Gatineau in Game 2 (being named the game’s Second Star), before the Sea Dogs regained the series lead on the road in Game 3 with a resounding 5-0 win.

Despres then chipped in two assists in Game 4 – a 4-3 Saint John double-overtime victory – to help the Sea Dogs go up 3-1 in the series. The contest was the longest-ever finals game in QMJHL history, with the game-winner being scored 19:16 into the second overtime. Despres earned the primary assist on the game-tying goal at the 6:10 mark of the third to force extra time.

Although Gatineau produced a 3-2 win in Game 5 on May 13, the Sea Dogs took Game 6 – another double-overtime win – to capture their first league title in their sixth year of existence.

Despres and the Sea Dogs now advance to the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Ont., from May 20-29. They will face the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League and the host team, the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the OHL.

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