Wildcats, Sea Dogs may meet in QMJHL final
Long playoff run causes booking problems in Moncton, Saint John arenas
Hockey fans may see an all-New-Brunswick final in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year.
The Moncton Wildcats could clinch their quarterfinal series on Friday against if they get a win over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats' provincial rival, the Saint John Seadogs, have already made it to the semi-finals after a four-game sweep of the Gatineau Olympiques.
The Wildcats and Sea Dogs would each need to win their next series before the all-New-Brunswick match-up would become real.
Bill Schurman, the general manager for the Moncton Wildcats, said hockey teams aren't supposed to look ahead, but he admits it is a tantalizing opportunity to face the Sea Dogs in a future playoff round.
"You're not supposed to look ahead, it's against tradition to look ahead. But you can't help but look ahead because I mean Saint John's a natural rival," Schurman said
"If that's the case then the two winners of the semi-finals go against each other and it is a chance to have an all New Brunswick final which would be terrific."
If the two New Brunswick teams were to face off against each other in the finals, both teams may face an off-ice competitor.
Both the Moncton and Saint John franchises are running into problems securing ice time the longer they last in the playoffs.
More than 5,000 Moncton Wildcats fans are expected to fill into the Moncton Coliseum when the puck drops at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, which is a later start time than usual.
Before the Wildcats can take the ice in their Game 4 match-up, a heavy equipment show has to move out first.
Schurman said when the Wildcats do well in the playoffs, the team has to find ways to share the arena with other events that are already booked.
"Well, it would be nice not to have this extra pressure to try and make things work, but as long as the game goes on as planned, the majority of the people won't understand what goes on behind," Schurman said.
If the Moncton Wildcats win a place in the semi-finals or the finals, the access to home ice will become even more difficult.
New QMJHL rules prevent teams from playing at a smaller venue.
Shurman said if they can't play at the Moncton Coliseum, his team would probably go to Charlottetown or Halifax.
Wayne Long, the president of the Saint John Seadogs, said his team has the same problem in trying to find ice time in his home arena.
"It's a great problem to have," Long said.
"We're all playing late into April, which is very positive for both franchises. Both buildings book other events, and we certainly respect that and understand that that's the nature of the business."
Long and Schurman say so far both teams have always managed to work around other events and keep home games at home.