“This is probably the worst feeling I have ever felt,” said Shugg, who acknowledged playing with minor injuries. “The other side of the spectrum is not fun.”
The pain was shared in the Majors dressing room. Built by head coach and general manager Dave Cameron to win, the Majors lost their two biggest games, with the Game 7 overtime setback to the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL final the other bookend.
It was a nightmarish season for Cameron and Majors captain Casey Cizikas, who were together with Canada when it lost in the world junior gold-medal game to Russia.
“They say that losing toughens you,” Cameron said. “Right now I feel like a 10-cent steak. Losing sucks, I can say that. But when it is all said and done, you take the emotion out, you scrape everything away and you ask that your team does not leave anything on the ice. My team did not leave anything on the ice.”
Of the three monumental losses, Cizikas said: “It’s hard to put into words.”
For those who wonder about Cameron’s inability to get a victory in a title game, consider that he had no true superstars with the Majors. You could argue that it was superior coaching that was the main thrust in the Majors’ run through the OHL playoffs and then the Cup ... The Majors uncharacteristically were tight in the opening 20 minutes, leading to several giveaways. Saint John forechecked furiously from the opening faceoff, something the Majors weren’t ready for. “In a game like this, nerves can get the best of you,” Cizikas said. “Definitely, it was a tough way to start. I thought we played a great game (in the final 40 minutes).” ... Simon Despres, a Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, was considered by some to be the Sea Dogs’ best defenceman in the tournament. Despres scored a terrific goal to open the scoring, coming down the wing and beating J.P. Anderson high to the goalie’s blocker side ... The Majors’ lack of discipline helped put them in a hole. Though Saint John did not score a power-play goal in the first period, the four minors the Majors were assessed meant they couldn’t swing momentum in their favour ... The final junior game for Majors over-age forward Chris DeSousa was one of giveaways and missed scoring opportunities ... The Majors dominated the second and scored the only goal, with Riley Brace ending a pretty three-way passing play with Shugg and Cizikas ... Cameron did not pick up a sniper at the trade deadline, but he might have figured he got one when he lured Maxim Kitsyn from Russia after the world junior. Kitsyn had one goal in the Cup. The result might have been different on Sunday night had Kitsyn not hit the post in the second period.
From the hash marks
Sea Dogs winger Jonathan Huberdeau will be a high NHL draft pick in June, but his name already has been called once. Huberdeau, named the tournament MVP and winner of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, was selected fifth overall by Vityaz Chekov in the Kontinental Hockey League draft in Russia on Saturday. “I don’t know why they drafted me,” Huberdeau said. “You want to play in the NHL, not the KHL.” ... It was nice to see the late E.J. McGuire honoured in a pre-game ceremony with a video tribute. McGuire, the vice-president of NHL central scouting, passed away in April after a fight with cancer ... Strange. Owen Sound’s Jordan Binnington, who was sharp when he played, did not start in the Attack’s most important game but was named the tournament’s outstanding goaltender. DeSerres deserved the award. He was 3-0 and stopped 34 shots in the final. That should have been more than enough to get DeSerres’ name on the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy. The Majors’ Marc Cantin won the George Parsons Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player.
The all-star team was Binnington, the Majors’ Stuart Percy and the Sea Dogs’ Nathan Beaulieu on defence, and Andrew Shaw of the Attack, Smith-Pelly and Huberdeau at forward. The awards and all-star team were selected by NHL central scouting ... The last word to Cantin, speaking about Cameron: “He gets the most out of his players than any other coach I’ve played for.”
Sea Dogs vs. Majors summary
Sunday night at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre
Saint John Sea Dogs 3, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors 1
1. Saint John, Depres 1 (unassisted) 2:24 SH
2. Saint John, Phillips 1 (Huberdeau, Kirkpatrick) 13:17
Penalties — Tesink, SJ (roughing) 2:09; Brace, MISS (kneeing), 8:34; Cramarossa, MISS (roughing), 11:17; Mayer, MISS (tripping), 14:36; Smith-Pelly, MISS (cross-checking), 18:13; Flemming, MISS (roughing), Jurco, SJ (roughing), 20:00.
3. Mississauga, Brace 1 (Shugg, Cizikas) 14:41
Penalties — Gagne, SJ (tripping), 0:55; Kirkpatrick, SJ (slashing), 11:12; Galiev, SJ (tripping), 17:21.
4. Saint John, Huberdeau 3 (Phillips, MacAulay) 16:17.
Penalties — Anthony, SJ (hooking), 2:39.
Shots on goal by
Saint John 11-6-8—25
Goal — Mississauga: Anderson (L, 3-2). Saint John: DeSerres: (W, 3-0).
Power plays (goals-chances): Mississauga 0-5. Saint John 0-4.
Referees — Dominick Bedard, Matt Kirk. Linesmen — Matt Traub, Ryan Lachine.
Attendance — 5,429 (5,500).