BATHURST, N.B. — It has been a storybook season for Noah Dobson, and there’s still one more important chapter to be written.
Those details will be revealed over the next few weeks leading up to the National Hockey League Entry Draft in Dallas on June 22 and 23.
The six-foot-three and 179-pound defenceman from Summerside played a key role in the Acadie-Bathurst Titan winning two prestigious championships two weeks apart. The Titan claimed the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup on May 13, and captured the 100th Memorial Cup — the Canadian major junior hockey championship — on May 27.
“It feels great, and it’s been quite a couple of weeks,” said Dobson in a phone interview with the Journal Pioneer.
Dobson and the Titan flew back to Bathurst, N.B., on Monday, and the team was greeted by an estimated 1,000 fans. A parade through the streets of Bathurst honoured the Titan on Tuesday evening, and Dobson said he has many fond memories from the 2017-18 campaign.
“We had a real close-knit team,” emphasized Dobson. “Everybody was willing to do anything for anybody, and we are always sticking up for each other.”
Off to Buffalo
Dobson was scheduled to be right back on a plane early Wednesday morning to Buffalo to join 103 other players for the annual National Hockey League Scouting Combine. Dobson, who had 52 points and was a plus-33 in 67 regular-season games in 2017-18, was the fifth-ranked North American skater in the latest NHL Central Scouting rankings. Dobson, who started his QMJHL career as a 16-year-old, had 26 points and was a plus-34 in his rookie 2016-17 campaign. What makes his plus-minus ratings even more impressive is he is often matched against the opposition’s top players.
“I really feel I have developed into a two-way player,” said Dobson. “I really take pride in my defensive play as well as my offensive play.”
He was quick to point out the influence Titan head coach Mario Pouliot has had on his development the last two seasons after Acadie-Bathurst selected him with the sixth overall selection in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft held in Charlottetown.
“Mario has been a big influence, and has helped me grow my game,” said Dobson.
As for what he can expect at the combine, Dobson has not had to look far for advice.
“(Teammate) Antoine Morand was there last year, and he was a second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks,” said Dobson, who turned 18 on Jan. 7. “He has been a big help in telling me what to expect.”
Dobson’s agenda does not slow down following the completion of the combine on Saturday. He is one of the top prospects that will travel from Buffalo to Washington on Sunday for Monday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals. Dobson’s appearance at Game 4 will only increase the P.E.I. presence in this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Summerside native Gerard (Turk) Gallant is the Golden Knights head coach, and Kinkora Regional High School graduate Mike Kelly, who grew up in nearby Shamrock, is an assistant coach with Vegas.
“That will be a lot of fun, and am really looking forward to it,” said Dobson, who won gold with Team Canada’s under-18 squad at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Dobson’s stock continued to rise with his strong play at the Memorial Cup. He recorded seven points and 17 shots on goal in four games, and was named to the tournament all-star team. But the Titan’s road to victory was not an easy one, and Dobson pointed out it showed the team’s ability to handle challenges. They needed overtime to defeat the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos 4-3 in their opening game, won a wild 8-6 decision over the host Regina Pats in their second game, and lost their final round-robin game 3-2 to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Titan earned a bye to the final, where they met the Pats before a sold-out crowd.
“We felt going into the final we had not played our best game yet,” noted Dobson.
The Titan opened the scoring late in the first period, and continued to carry the play, outshooting the Pats 36-11 through two periods. However, an outstanding performance from Pats goaltender Max Paddock kept the score 1-0 entering the third period.
“It was a tough game to play,” said Dobson of the final. “The crowd was on their side, and every time their goalie would make a big save the place would erupt.”
He added the Titan learned some valuable lessons en route to the QMJHL championship.
“In both the Victoriaville and Blainville-Boisbriand series, we held one-goal leads going into the third period.”
The Titan would preserve that lead, and score two goals in the final seven minutes to pull out a 3-0 win. Dobson’s parents, Andrew and Jenny Dobson, travelled to Regina for the final, but his sister, Elly, was unable to make the trip due to soccer commitments with the P.E.I. F.C. under-15 girls’ team in Halifax.
“It was great that my parents were able to be there, and I was able to celebrate with them” said Dobson.
Noah Dobson’s statistics with Acadie-Bathurst Titan:
GP G A Pts
63 7 9 26
11 0 5 5
GP G A Pts
67 17 52 69
20 3 10 13
4 2 5 7