New Brunswick

Sea Dogs get new coach less than a month before Memorial Cup

The Saint John Sea Dogs are welcoming a new coach less than a month before they’ll be competing for the Memorial Cup on home ice.

Gardiner MacDougall has coached UNB Reds for 22 seasons

The Saint John Sea Dogs will be competing for the Memorial Cup on June 20. (Saint John Sea Dogs/Facebook)

The Saint John Sea Dogs are welcoming a new coach less than a month before they compete for the Memorial Cup on home ice.

The club parted ways with head coach Gordie Dwyer after a surprise first-round exit in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. 

To fill the vacancy, the team has brought in someone who knows a thing or two about winning championships.

New coach Gardiner MacDougall has won seven national titles in 22 seasons with the University of New Brunswick's men's hockey program. 

"It's amazing how a phone call can kind of change your life," MacDougall told Information Morning Saint John.

Gardiner MacDougall has been coaching the UNB Reds for 22 seasons and now is also coaching the Saint John Sea Dogs. (Philip Drost/CBC)

He said when he got the call with the job offer, it was a quick decision.

"[It's] actually a real big honour and a privilege to have this responsibility," he said.

The club will be hosting the cup on June 20. The tournament features the three championship teams from major junior hockey teams from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The Sea Dogs will compete because they're the hosts.

The president of the Sea Dog Trevor Georgie said the shakeup in coaching speaks to the team's commitment to win. 

"It's a human decision, and Gord is a good person, and you don't like to make those decisions," he told Information Morning Saint John.

"But when you're when you're committed to the group and committed to what's best for the team, then you're all in committed to what's best for the fans in terms of wanting a Memorial Cup here in Saint John, then then you do it."

Georgie said hiring MacDougall seemed the best move.

"He's moved a lot of players up to the pro ranks, where our players have those aspirations," he said.

MacDougall said he did hesitate at first because this is a busy time for recruiting for the Reds, but his assistant coach will be taking on a little more work so he can have time to coach the Sea Dogs.

He said coaching a new team so close to game time, and after they had a loss, can be challenging, but it can also be an asset.

"Sometimes adversity can be your friend," he said. "I think we have to use the adversity as a stepping stone to become better and, you know, have the opportunity to recreate a foundation for the group."

Georgie said the players are buying into MacDougall's energy and passion for the game.

MacDougall will stay on with the Sea Dogs until the end of the tournament, which begins on June 20.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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