DeSerres makes most of his second chance

Saint John Sea Dog's Jacob DeSerres takes a shot off the mask as Mississauga Majors Jordan Mayer...

Saint John Sea Dog's Jacob DeSerres takes a shot off the mask as Mississauga Majors Jordan Mayer tries to stay clear during their game May 20, 2011. (Mark O'Neill/QMI Agency)

Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:11 AM ET

Without him the first ever Memorial Cup title by a team from the Maritimes may not have happened.

But without that 9-1 loss in this very same championship game a year ago while a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Jacob DeSerres may not have become the goaltender he is today.

DeSerres knew he was a good goalie then, just like he knows he’s a good goaltender today. But a 9-1 loss when you give up all nine goals leaves a mark that doesn’t go away easily.

As DeSerres said, “It was one bad game. Everyone remembers that game, but it was still only one.”

It proved to be a turning point in DeSerres junior career as it forced him to look at the game in a different way.

“I’m a completely different person than I was last year,” DeSerres said. “I grew so much mentally and technically and I worked so hard. That’s the one thing, I believed in my ability more and I just kind of grew up a lot from last year. I just approach every game like it was a hockey game and nothing more. I try to play every game fearlessly.”

‘Fearlessly’ was a word that DeSerres would use to describe his style a number of times in the post-game interviews.

It came from all the time he spent last summer with goaltender coach Paul Fricker. DeSerres moved to Victoria to work with Fricker and came away more focused and less afraid to lose.

“My main focus was not to think about the end result and just play the game, save by save and minute by minute,” DeSerres said.

While his teammates talked about an inability to sleep the night before the big game, DeSerres said he “fell asleep just fine.”

He said he still had the normal pre-game nerves, but nothing out of the ordinary. “I always have some nerves but that just shows you care,” he said. “I have nerves before exhibition games, but they are there because you want to do well.”

Wherever and whoever the reviews came from Sunday night, DeSerres did more than just “well”.

“Their goalie was unbelievable,” Mississauga captain Casey Cizikas said. “He was the reason, I think, why they won.”

Cizikas and his teammates stormed the Saint John net from the start of the second until the end of the game but managed to beat DeSerres just the one time when Riley Brace finished off a beautiful three-way passing play with Cizikas and Justin Shugg.

About the only thing DeSerres seemed unable to do Sunday night was actually show the emotion that had to be bubbling there behind that calm facade.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I keep reminding myself I just won the Memorial Cup. It’s incredible.”

While he said this DeSerres face was a blank slate. The words said he was excited but his body language didn’t match.

Even as the final seconds ticked off the clock and the Majors fired a last desperate shot from the other side of centre ice, his composure didn’t crack. DeSerres calmly reached down and scooped up the puck that had ricocheted off the end boards behind him. He didn’t smile, didn’t jump. He stood there waiting for his teammates to arrive and begin the traditional crush-the-goalie celebration.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said of those final seconds when he knew his Memorial Cup dream had become a reality. “I still hadn’t heard the buzzer. I guess I was just playing it out. I was almost so excited and so happy, but you don’t show it. It was all inside.”

Perhaps when he meets up with Fricker who may or may not have made the trip to Mississauga to see the final - “Even if he were here he wouldn’t tell me. He did text to say he would see me soon so who knows?” - those emotions will come out.

DeSerres wasn’t showing it but he knew what he had accomplished with the win.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget it,” DeSerres said of the 9-1 loss a year ago. “It’s kind of hard to forget, but I think something like this can overpower that memory a lot.”

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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