BATHURST, N.B. – Noah Dobson is a President Cup champion.
The 18-year-old Summerside native helped the Acadie-Bathurst Titan win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) title in Bathurst, N.B., Sunday with a 2-1 victory over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Titan won the best-of-seven final 4-2.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling,” Dobson said Sunday night. “It really hasn't kicked in yet. I think when you wake up tomorrow morning it will really be the moment where you’re like, ‘Wow, what a feeling’.”
It is Bathurst’s second league title with the first coming in 1999. This year’s championship came in the 20th anniversary of the team moving to Bathurst from Laval, Que.
Dobson, whose grandparents live in Bathurst, said it was special to be part of the team to bring the title back to his second home.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I had a lot of family in the stands. To share this moment with them, my parents and even on Mother’s Day for my mom, who has sacrificed so much for me.”
Former Charlottetown Islanders forward Mitchell Balmas and former Summerside Western Capitals centre Marc-Andre LeCouffe were also part of the Titan.
“It’s unbelievable,” Balmas said. “It’s hard to put into words right now what I’m feeling, but I’m going to enjoy the moment with my teammates and my family. It’s going to be a good night.”
Titan captain Jeffrey Truchon-Viel opened the scoring 6:37 into the game and Samuel L’Italien added an insurance goal with three minutes to play in the second period. Ethan Crossman and Adam Holwell had assists.
Drake Batherson cut the lead in half when he scored with 2:45 left in the game. Pascal Corbeil and Joel Teasdale had assists.
Evan Fitzpatrick made 29 saves for the win while Emile Samson stopped 24 shots in the loss.
Fitzpatrick was one of a half a dozen players picked up during the season in trades to boost the club for a playoff run.
“He’s been our backbone,” Dobson said. “He’s obviously been a huge acquisition for us.”
It can be difficult to get everybody on board when a team makes a number of moves during a two-year period. But Acadie-Bathurst was able to get everybody to play together for a common goal.
“We’re a real close group,” Balmas said. “Everybody loves everybody. I think that goes a long way.”
Dobson, a defenceman, was selected sixth overall by the Titan during the 2016 draft at the Eastlink Centre and is considered one of the top prospects for this year’s NHL draft. Balmas, a Sydney, N.S., native was taken seventh overall by the Isles at the 2014 draft and traded to the Gatineau Olympiqes in the Alex Dostie deal a year ago. The Titan acquired him at this year’s deadline.
Balmas’ billets in Charlottetown for two seasons were Jeremy and Kellie Davies of Stratford.
Jeremy and his nephew Dylan Matthews, who plays for the Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride, made the trip to northern New Brunswick on Sunday.
“It’s fantastic,” Davies said of Balmas winning the title.
He described Balmas as quiet and shy, but extremely personable and proud of his family with a “true heart of a champion.”
Acadie-Bathurst defeated Chicoutimi in six games in the first round of the playoffs before sweeping Sherbrooke and the high-powered Victoriaville Tigres in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Dobson said before the semifinal a lot of the pundits were calling for Victoriaville to win the series and the Titan used it as motivation. Balmas sustained an upper-body injury in Game 1 with the Tigres and missed the next three games.
“It killed me not to be able to play with the guys,” he said. “It was just great that I was able to come in the lineup (for the final) and help them.”
The Titan finished second in the regular season behind the Armada. They will now represent the QMJHL at the Mastercard Memorial Cup in Regina, Sask., from May 17-27. They leave Wednesday.
Balmas said he has never been to Regina, but “I can’t wait to get there.”