May 24, 2011
Extended break good for Sea Dogs
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- When you're rolling like the Saint John Sea Dogs, four days between games might sound like too much.
But not for this group.
The Sea Dogs booked their ticket for Sunday's Memorial Cup final with a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over the Owen Sound Attack Monday night.
That rendered Tuesday night's game against Kootenay meaningless (for them). After that, the Sea Dogs will be off for four straight days.
Coach Gerrard Gallant says the four-day respite is a bit of a godsend with his team battling some health issues.
"I'm real happy (about the break), to be honest with you," Gallant said. "The flu has been going around our team a little bit -- I don't know if you noticed Simon Despres but he's been coughing his head off on the ice -- so there have been three or four guys with real bad chest colds and sinus (issues) and all that. It's really going to help those guys a lot. Hopefully it will give them some rest."
Gallant plans on giving the team a day off Wednesday and expects at some point over the next three he'll have them all down to the Hockey Hall of Fame. They've already taken in a Blue Jays game, but if the mood strikes again, the White Sox are in town again starting Friday.
As for losing any of that momentum, both Gallant and starting goaltender Jacob DeSerres don't anticipate that being a problem.
"If you think about it, four days isn't long at all," DeSerres said. "You look at our season and the schedule there and we have a full week off all the time. It's not really a long time at all. I don't think it changes anything. The biggest thing is just keep focusing on being strong in practice, doing the same things and not just taking time off or taking it easy because we can."
Four days off while living in a hotel might be hard on a team that doesn't enjoy each other's company, but that also is not the case with the Sea Dogs.
Take it from DeSerres, the old man on the team at 21 and in his seventh season (he played three games as a bantam for Seattle) in junior hockey, this is one tight-knit group.
"Our team has been unreal," the Calgary native said. "We knew we had a lot of talent and stuff, but what no one else knew was the character we had. I've never played with a group of guys that cared so much and want to win and just love each other. We love being around each other. We love winning for each other and for ourselves and it's a good feeling."
Gallant admits there's always a chance the layoff could take something away from the Sea Dogs but he doesn't see that happening.
"Sometimes it hurts when you get that layoff, but I think it's going to help us," he said.