Sea Dogs goalie looks for redemption

The Gatineau Olympiques took on the Saint John Ice Dogs at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau...

The Gatineau Olympiques took on the Saint John Ice Dogs at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau Wednesday May 10, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:57 PM ET

MISSISSAUGA —- Jacob DeSerres is looking for some personal redemption at the 2011 Memorial Cup.

“Absolutely,” the Saint John Sea Dogs goaltender said on Thursday. “I always think that last year happened to help prepare me for this year. It was on centre stage, and it was more publicized. Everyone goes through hard times.”

DeSerres’ hard time was packed into 60 minutes during the championship game of the 2010 Memorial Cup. He was in net for the host Brandon Wheat Kings and allowed nine goals on 52 shots as the Windsor Spitfires won their second Cup in a row.

But hockey careers, even those at the major-junior level, often take paths that can’t be foreseen. Entering the 2010-11 season, the Sea Dogs wanted an overage goalie, but could not find one to their liking in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Associate coach and director of hockey operations Mike Kelly got in touch with Wheat Kings coach Kelly McCrimmon and was told that DeSerres would become available. Once DeSerres cleared waivers in the Western Hockey League, he was signed by Saint John.

It’s rare for players in major junior to change leagues, and rarer still for those players to have a large impact on their new club.

But DeSerres, whose junior days started with the Seattle Thunderbirds when he was 15, reeled off a 27-3 record with four shutouts in 30 games for Saint John. His 2.22 goals-against average set a team record.

In the playoffs, DeSerres posted a .916 save percentage, helping the Sea Dogs win their first QMJHL title.

“We thought he would be solid, but he has been better than what we thought he would be, for sure,” Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant said. “Our goalies don’t get a lot of work, usually about 20-27 shots a game, but he has been a steady influence.”

DeSerres’ participation in this Memorial Cup will complete a circle of sorts. He was born in Toronto and lived in the Beaches and Markham before moving to Calgary at the age of 10 when his mother, Sharon, had a job transfer. He will be playing in front of family and friends, but one other aspect will be on his mind.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008, DeSerres didn’t sign with the NHL club. He’s a free agent, and realizes a strong performance in the following nine days at the Hershey Centre could lead to an NHL contract.

“It crosses my mind every day,” DeSerres, 21, said. “I was disappointed (when a contract with the Flyers didn’t happen), but it was a bump in the road. How many guys in the NHL right now are playing on the team they were drafted by? I don’t care what team I get signed by. I just want to play.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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