Wildcats aiming to gain an edge over their Route 1 neighbours
In a constant battle to attract businesses and events of all types in their respective markets, New Brunswick’s largest cities take it to another level when their hockey teams do battle in the QMJHL.
Ironically, the first goal in Sea Dogs history was scored by Moncton-native Jeff Caron on September 16, 2005, in a 3-2 loss to the now-defunct St. John’s Fog Devils.
It was the little brother’s way to tell his elder there was a new kid on the block.
Recently, both clubs have upped the ante in their perpetual fight with the awarding of the Rivalry Cup, a challenge trophy that the Wildcats have almost owned, winning six of the nine season series.
There has already been a first encounter this season on September 29 at the Moncton Coliseum where the Wildcats’ leading scorer and New Brunswick native Mika Cyr scored his first two career goals against Saint John in a three-point performance (2-1-3) that led to a Moncton 6-4 victory. Cyr, a Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska product, now has two goals and four points in seven career games against the Sea Dogs.
This rivalry reached a high point during the 2009-2010 season when the Sea Dogs went on a team-record 22-game unbeaten streak. Ironically, that streak would come to an end with a loss in Moncton. That same year, the Sea Dogs won the Jacques-Rougeau Trophy as regular-season champions and faced Moncton in the President Cup Final, no less.
Moncton wheeled-and-dealt at the trade deadline that year to prepare for the epic clash of two rivals, including Nicolas Deschamps, Gabriel Bourque and Kelsey Tessier plus the addition of overage goaltender Nicola Riopel, who returned from the AHL to help his junior team win its second President Cup crown.
In the opening game of that final series, defender and future NHLer Brandon Gormley scored 14 seconds into the game. The Wildcats went on to win that game 5-1 and then the series in six games, outscoring the Sea Dogs 32-18 along the way.
The Sea Dogs have hired key former Wildcats hockey personnel on two occasions, including head coach Danny Flynn before the 2015-2016 season. That year, he helped Saint John erase an 11-point deficit at the Christmas break to clinch the Maritimes division title in a victory over the Wildcats in the final home game of the regular season.
The first team from New Brunswick to join the QMJHL, the Wildcats, seemingly have their Route 1 neighbours’ number with an all-time record of 52-34-6-9 against the Sea Dogs, although Saint John dominated last year’s season series 7-2, outscoring the Wildcats 47-16 in those games.
This season’s nine-game series continues October 14 and 15 with a home-and-home series that will begin in Saint John as part of QMJHL Rivalry Weekend.