QMJHL playoff MVP understands importance of strong start
A special opportunity awaits Noah Dobson.
The 19-year-old Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenceman is in a position to win back-to-back Memorial Cups after winning the 2018 Canadian Hockey League championship with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
This year’s four-team tournament in Halifax, N.S., opens Friday night with the host Halifax Mooseheads taking on the Western Hockey League champions, Prince Albert Raiders. The Huskies open against the Ontario Hockey League-champion Guelph Storm on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. All games will be televised on Sportsnet.
“I’m a little more comfortable going into the tournament this year after having the experience last year and know what to expect,” said Dobson. “At this time of the year, all of the teams are very solid and it’s going to be pretty stiff competition.”
The teams will play a round robin, with the first-place team earning a direct berth in the final on May 26 while the second- and third-place teams will meet in a semifinal game on May 24. Last year, the Titan advanced directly to the final and Dobson felt that was very important.
“In a one-game situation, if you have to play that extra game in the semifinal, you never know what can happen,” said Dobson. “That berth guaranteed in the final was huge.
“We got a couple of days rest and that time of the year you are banged up and you have been playing hockey for a while. It’s definitely a big part of the tournament, so you want to get off to a good start in the round robin and try to earn that.”
Dobson, the most valuable player of the QMJHL playoffs, joined the Huskies in early January after being traded from the rebuilding Titan. It also marked a reunion with Huskies head coach Mario Pouliot, who was behind the Titan’s bench last season.
“It’s been a great transition and I’m really happy with my decision to come here,” said Dobson. “Obviously, knowing the coach from last year made it a lot easier.
“We have an unbelievable group of guys in the dressing room, they’ve been great. The first thing I noticed when I got here was how close-knit of a group we have and the bonds you need to win championships. It’s a special group and it’s been a great couple of months.”