Mem Cup final an old-fashioned PEI grudge match
STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Mississauga St. Michael's Majors head coach Dave Cameron instructs his players at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., earlier this week. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
TORONTO - Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors head coach Dave Cameron really wants to give it to “the city slickers” in the Memorial Cup final on Sunday night.
Cameron grew up in the tiny P.E.I. village of Kinkora.
The Majors’ opponent on Sunday, the Saint John Sea Dogs, are coached by a fellow P.E.I. lad Gerard Gallant, and the Dogs’ director of hockey operations, Mike Kelly, also calls the island home.
So what we have here is a good, old-fashioned island grudge match.
The only thing is, the Majors head coach, and the boys who run the Sea Dogs, couldn’t be better friends, particularly Cameron and Kelly.
Though they grew up in separate villages, Cameron and Kelly both attended Kinkora Regional High School — home of the world famous Agriculture Certificate Program — and, in fact, played on the team that won the P.E.I. high school hockey championship, back in the mid 1970’s.
Cameron jokes that Kelly is the city slicker, because he grew up in Oakville, and moved to the island when he was eight.
“We didn’t even know where Oakville was,” said Cameron.
Kelly counters that Cameron is the city slicker because Kinkora, compared to Kelly’s hometown, is a virtual metropolis.
“He calls me a city slicker?” Kelly said. “You have to know the area. There’s Kinkora, which is the village, and he was right in the middle of it. I grew up in Shamrock, which is a rural community about a mile and a half down the road, and that’s rural. So he’s the city slicker, not me.
“We were as red neck as anybody,” Kelly said.
No matter which city slicker wins Sunday’s Memorial Cup, you can be sure there will be a party on the island afterwards.
The big one
Does Cameron need a win on Sunday to get the Ottawa Senators head coaching job? Sens owner Eugene Melynk, who also owns the Majors, said this week Cameron is “in the mix” to get the Ottawa gig next season. But a loss in the Memorial Cup final may close the door on Cameron’s chances of coaching Ottawa, at least as the head man.
Cameron has a tremendous resume, but losing “the big one” three times in a row might find Melnyk reluctant to hire the St. Mike’s coach. Cameron coached Team Canada at the 2010 world juniors when Canada blew a 3-0, second-period lead to the Russians in the final game. And his Majors blew a 3-2 series lead to the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL playoff finals.
Three times would not be a charm.
The name game
Best names in the tournament: Jagger Dirk and Steele Boomer of the Kootenay Ice. In Friday night’s semifinal, Mississauga defenceman Marc Cantin nailed Boomer with a huge hit. You might say Cantin lowered the boom on Boomer. Sorry ... I guess Steele isn’t that unique of a name. Former IBF world super bantamweight champion Steve Molitor has a son named Steel ... Was really hoping with a name like the Sea Dogs, the Saint John players would have used the word “Arrgh!” a lot when doing interviews. Would have made for great copy. Alas, they didn’t. Huge disappointment. Nor were the words “Matey”, “Avast” or “Scallywag” muttered. However, the phrase “poop deck” was heard a few times during the tournament, but that was in reference to press row ... Sea Dogs forward Stephen MacCaulay grew up in Cole Harbour, N.S., the same town as Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. “There’s been some pretty good players come out of there,” MacCaulay said, in a bit of an understatement. “The minor hockey system is well run and all the coaches are top notch.” ... Sea Dogs defenceman Eric Gelinas, a 2009 second-round draft pick by the New Jersey Devils, is known for dishing out long “home run” passes from inside the Saint John blue line. He gets that skill honestly. Gelinas’ father, Marc, was drafted by Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978 and his older brother, Karl, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2003.