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Wild Prospects Shoot For QMJHL Title

by Natalie Dillon / Minnesota Wild

After finishing the regular season decisively atop the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Saint John Sea Dogs are poised to defend their 2011 President’s Cup with a pair of Wild prospects leading the way. Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips guide the Sea Dogs as they begin play tonight versus the Rimouski Oceanic in the league finals.

Returning to the QMJHL finals for the third straight season, the Sea Dogs are armed with the playoff’s most potent offense, with Coyle and Phillips as the main components. Coyle has racked up 14 goals and 29 points this postseason to lead the league in both categories. Phillips holds the top spot with a modest 20 assists, while his 27 points ranks third in the league.

Don't overlook the fact that the Sea Dogs tore through the first three rounds in just 13 games, dropping only one postseason contest – in overtime. Saint John has decimated its postseason opponents so far, putting up a 12-0-1 record while outscoring teams 83-31.

Rimouski is not without its own claim to individual heroics. Alexandre Mallet (9-13=22) and Alex Belzile (6-15=21), who have played 17 games each, anchor the Oceanic offense, ranking sixth and seventh in the league in postseason points.

Rimouski finished the regular season ranked seventh overall but has found ways to overcome two higher-seeded teams already in the playoffs, beating third-ranked Blainville-Boisbriand in seven games and sixth-ranked Halifax in six.

If the Sea Dogs and Oceanic’s regular-season series is any indication, this should be a hotly contested finals. The two teams went head-to-head twice in the regular season, each winning a game at home.

With its first-place regular-season finish, Saint John has the benefit of a home-ice advantage in the 2-3-2 series. The Sea Dogs haven’t lost in front of the hometown crowd since mid-January – including all seven of its home postseason games – and finished the regular season with the league’s best home record at 28-5-1.

For the full PONDCast interview of Zack Phillips and Charlie Coyle, click here.

A full schedule for the Sea Dogs – Oceanic series is below (all times Atlantic. *Indicates if necessary):

GAME ONE – Friday, May 4: 8 p.m. @ Harbour Station

GAME TWO – Saturday, May 5: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station

GAME THREE – Wednesday, May 9: 8:30 p.m. @ Colisee de Rimouski

GAME FOUR – Thursday, May 10: 8:30 p.m. @ Colisee de Rimouski

*GAME FIVE – Saturday, May 12: 5 p.m. @ Colisee de Rimouski

*GAME SIX – Monday, May 14: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station

*GAME SEVEN – Wednesday, May 16: 7 p.m. @ Harbour Station

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