May 29, 2011
Another heartbreaker for Cameron
By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun
Not even the annoying antics of Dancin’ Dave could save the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors on Sunday night.
Which is a shame, because Mississauga coach Dave Cameron deserved better than another loss in another big game.
For whatever reason, the Kinkora, P.E.I. native seems to have pissed off the hockey gods. How else do you explain the fact that his teams have dropped three straight championship games, all in the same year?
Cameron was the head coach when Team Canada blew a 3-0 lead in the gold medal game at the 2011 world juniors.
And his Majors also lost Game 7 in overtime to the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL final earlier this month.
And now, Sunday night, a 3-1 loss to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup final, a loss made even more painful given that Cameron’s Majors dominated for the final two periods.
“Life’s not always fair,” said Cameron. “They say that losing toughens you. Well, right now I feel like a 10-cent steak.”
You wouldn’t wish Cameron’s luck on your worst enemy. The unfortunate part is that Cameron’s Majors did not lose Sunday night because they were ill-prepared or overmatched or out-coached. For much of the game, they out-played Gerard Gallant’s Sea Dogs. But just like in Game 7 of the OHL final, they just couldn’t score when they had the chances.
“Losing sucks, there’s no other way to put it,” said Mississauga captain Casey Cizikas. “It’s probably one of the worst feelings in the world when you (put) everything on the line and you play your hearts out and you have chances to win and you just don’t.”
For a while, the first period at least, the Majors did appear overmatched.
But Cameron did an excellent job settling his team down in the first intermission and the Majors came out like gangbusters in the second and third. But all for naught ... again.
Cameron insisted that losing heart-breaking games will not permanently damage his psyche. He won’t be rushing off to see Dr. Phil anytime soon.
It’s his players he hurts for.
“People asking me about losing, the hardest part about losing isn’t dealing with it as coach ... it’s about how heartbreaking it is on your kids,” he said. “Because I know what they go through, I know how committed they are. I know how hard they’ve worked, and what they’ve given up to be here.
“When you get older and you have some life experiences, at the end the day you’re able to say ‘it’s just a hockey game’” Cameron said.
A win against Sea Dogs would have put to sleep any doubts that Cameron is not ready to coach in the NHL.
The word is that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who also owns the Majors, is considering hiring Cameron to be the bench boss in the Nation’s Capital. Now you have to wonder if Melnyk would dare promote a guy who has an uncanny knack of losing the big game.
But while Cameron’s search for redemption fell agonizingly short, Saint John goaltender Jacob DeSerres certainly exorcized his demons.
DeSerres was the goaltender for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2010 Memorial Cup final when they dropped a 9-1 decision to the Windsor Spitfires. DeSerres was acquired as free agent by the Sea Dogs this season and bounced back with a career year.
He had an outstanding night in his second Memorial Cup final, turning aside 34 shots for the win, including some huge saves in the dying minutes of the third.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said DeSerres. “Last year, it was the worst feeling in the world and I just knew I didn’t want to feel like that again.”
For Cameron, whomever came up with the expression ‘Third time’s a charm’ was either an idiot or just cruel.
One thing he hasn’t lost, though, is the respect of his players.
“He’s the reason why we’re here,” said Cizikas, who played for Cameron on all three teams that lost championship games this season.