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Eileen Gu is golden in first Beijing Olympic event – and right on cue – The Globe and Mail

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Eileen Gu of China performs a trick ahead of the women’s freestyle skiing Big Air final in Beijing on Feb. 8. She would ski to a gold medal in the event.Justin Setterfield/Getty Images


The rule for all Olympic crowds is no cheering and no crowding. Sit one seat apart. Clap if you must. But keep all droplets to yourself.

And then Eileen Gu showed up.

Beijing’s Olympic blueprint is pretty simple. Acquire another Games; repurpose existing facilities to accommodate winter sports; unleash Gu.

Her appearance at the Big Air final was as close as this Games has come to pandemonium. Social distancing went out the window. Cheering was general. At the most emphatic moments, a few masks came off. And that was before her remarkable come-from-behind gold medal performance.

She was second after the first jump and third after the second.

Needing something spectacular, Gu performed a jump that only two women have ever successfully planted in competition. She’s the second. The first had taken place about 45 minutes earlier. “I didn’t even know Eileen had that trick,” Canada’s Megan Oldham, who finished fourth, said afterward.

As her winning score came up, and just for a minute, you imagined yourself watching a normal Olympics. By the time they roll her out again on Sunday, it will be full-on Beatlemania.

Only 18 years old, Gu’s media polish is already at a high shine. The likes of Tom Brady could only wish to be this charismatic while saying things that are this boring.

“I’m so grateful for everything China has done for this Olympics,” Gu said. “I’m not here to beat other people. I’m here to push myself to the limit.”

She appeared to give similar answers in Mandarin and English – same intonations, same hand gestures. If it’s a script, it works as both a sales pitch, as well as a shield from criticism.

Gu’s golden moment on the podium, as seen live and on a big screen in Beijing.Matt Slocum/AP; Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Largely unknown even a week ago outside China and X-Games circles, Gu’s backstory is suddenly a topic of general conversation.

She is the gift America (unwillingly) gave China – a California born, raised and trained freestyle skier who arrives here primed for multimedia stardom. She is the star who chose China (via her mother’s heritage).

According to some reports, she’s already making $20-million a year from Chinese endorsements. And that was before she’d done anything truly noteworthy.

She arrived at the big air final like Caesar coming into the forum. Every twitch elicited trills.

All the proper notes for an Olympic opening night had been hit – the huge build-up, the mild disappointment in qualifying (5th), the impossible pressure of the moment.

How big was this? IOC president Thomas Bach schlepped all the way out to the fringes of the city’s endless downtown to be there. Getting name-checked in the Closing Ceremonies? That’s love. Spending an hour in Beijing traffic? That’s respect.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai watches the Big Air finals.Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press

Even Chinese tennis player and (if you ask women’s tennis authorities) possible political prisoner Peng Shuai was there. Bach said afterward that he’d sat with Peng, that she was leaving the closed loop and going into quarantine before going home.

If this was her last public appearance, it’s telling that Peng chose to dovetail it with Gu’s emergence.

Peng, Bach’s relationship with Peng, Gu’s relationship with China – that’s a lot of controversial storylines meeting in one place. Through the washing machine of sport, they all come out laundered by victory.

Four days in and everybody’s already tired of yelling about geopolitics. A potential COVID meltdown hasn’t materialized. There is no unspooling multi-day outrage to focus on.

So, as it always does, the focus has narrowed onto sport. Who’s winning what?

Other countries need to win in bulk, across disciplines. China – no Winter Games power – has a more focused approach. If Gu does the business, that vindicates their billion-dollar party.

Industrial buildings loom behind Gu during her performance at a Feb. 7 qualifying round.Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press

Big Air was the correct place to begin this marketing assault.

The facility – a winter waterslide built in a derelict industrial zone – is an awesome venue. Not necessarily in a good way.

Surrounded by decommissioned nuclear-style smokestacks, it’s got a ‘Blade-Runner-before-the-yuppies-moved-in’ vibe. Alluring and vaguely horrifying, it may be the most 21st century sports setting in the world.

Big Air itself is the prototype ‘new’ Olympic sport. Visually impressive; a lot of fun; more than a bit silly. It’s sports for people who don’t have much patience for sports. Those people buy sneakers, too.

Gu has two more chances at gold, but she is already a total triumph. First impressions matter in a lot of places, but nowhere so much as an Olympics. She is now cemented in the public imagination as the comeback kid.

Whatever happens next just adds to the legend.

That makes the next week and a bit a kind of masterclass in modern sports marketing.

Used to be, being a great sportswoman or man meant you were really good at running/throwing/scoring. Not any more.

Ask Mike Trout. He may be the best baseball player who ever lived, and you couldn’t pick him out of a three-man line-up at spring break in Ft. Lauderdale.

These days, you need a full array of interests and entry points in order to diversify your content creation.

Watch Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris work a mixed-zone. He may be freezing and tired and, sure, he’s not the gold medallist, but nobody is hitting his marks harder.

Still chipper; still delivering the same practised punchlines; still pumping his sponsors’ tires. That is modern athletics.

An advertisement features Gu at an Anta store at a Beijing shopping mall.Tingshu Wang/Reuters

Gu isn’t just the entire package. She’s the manufacturer and the delivery system. She has the quality, the look and the polish, without any dangerous tendency to run off script.

Her CV is so perfect – a bilingual best-in-class who’s a fashion influencer, a would-be supermodel, a goofy tomboy and a Stanford STEM freshman – that you suspect she was lab-generated.

If you ask Gu why she switched America for China, you’ll get a boilerplate answer about “the opportunity to inspire millions of young people where my mom was born.”

She gave a version of it again at the big air competition. She was self-aware enough to begin it by saying, “My message has been the same forever …”

Yes, of course. What tween doesn’t see an attractive stranger doing backflips on skis and think, ‘Maybe I can be president!’

But she’s right inasmuch as she has now joined the global sporting power elite. What she does from here on out is news.

Only a few athletes belong in that club and most of them play professionally year-round. Gu’s got another ten days to make her pitch.

All she must do is win again, and then not say anything anyone can wrap an outraged headline around.

So far, so good.

One down. Conquering the whole world still to go.

How does Olympic freestyle skiing work? A visual guide


BEIJING 2022

Qualification

Speed, showmanship and the ability to perform aerial manoeuvres whilst skiing is the essence of freestyle skiing. The discipline was contested as a demonstration sport at Calgary 1988 and made its Olympic debut with mogul events at Albertville 1992. Freestyle skiing was affectionately known as ‘hotdogging’ in the 1970s.

Athletes are evaluated on overall composition of the run, sequence and variety of tricks, the amount of risk in the routine, and how they use the course

Ski boots protect against jolts and bumps

Helmet is mandatory

Gloves are compulsory

Ski poles facilitate balance and enable stopping

Goggles protect eyes against weather and UV rays

EVOLUTION OF EVENTS

Halfpipe,

Slopestyle

Moguls

Athletes ski down a slope while negotiating a series of bumps or moguls, performing two jumps along the way.

75m–125m

Length

200m–250m

Aerials

Athletes ski down a short in-run before launching themselves into the air and performing tricks for style points.

Length

115m–135m

Ski Cross

Four racers in each qualifying heat race down the course in a single knockout run. The top two advance to next round.

180m–250m

Length

800m–1,200m

Halfpipe

Competitors go from one side to the other and perform tricks while in the air above the sides of the pipe.

Length

155m–195m

Slopestyle

Athletes perform spins, flips, grinds and grabs on a mix of technical street-style obstacles and launch ramps.

125m–175m

Length

500m–600m

Big Air

Skiers ride down a ramp to launch off a large ski jump that propels them into the air where they perform tricks.

40m–

50m

Length

125m–175m

SOURCE: REUTERS

BEIJING 2022

Qualification

Speed, showmanship and the ability to perform aerial manoeuvres whilst skiing is the essence of freestyle skiing. The discipline was contested as a demonstration sport at Calgary 1988 and made its Olympic debut with mogul events at Albertville 1992. Freestyle skiing was affectionately known as ‘hotdogging’ in the 1970s.

Athletes are evaluated on overall composition of the run, sequence and variety of tricks, the amount of risk in the routine, and how they use the course

Ski boots protect against jolts and bumps

Helmet is mandatory

Gloves are compulsory

Ski poles facilitate balance and enable stopping

Goggles protect eyes against weather and UV rays

EVOLUTION OF EVENTS

Halfpipe,

Slopestyle

Moguls

Athletes ski down a slope while

negotiating a series of bumps

or moguls, performing two

jumps along the way.

75m–125m

Length

200m–250m

Aerials

Athletes ski down a short in-run

before launching themselves

into the air and performing

tricks for style points.

Length

115m–135m

Ski Cross

Four racers in each qualifying heat

race down the course in a single

knockout run. The top two

advance to next round.

180m–250m

Length

800m–1,200m

Halfpipe

Competitors go from one side to

the other and perform tricks

while in the air above the

sides of the pipe.

Length

155m–195m

Slopestyle

Athletes perform spins, flips,

grinds and grabs on a mix of

technical street-style obstacles

and launch ramps.

125m–175m

Length

500m–600m

Big Air

Skiers ride down a ramp to launch

off a large ski jump that propels

them into the air where they

perform tricks.

40m–

50m

Length

125m–175m

SOURCE: REUTERS

BEIJING 2022

Qualification

Speed, showmanship and the ability to perform aerial manoeuvres whilst skiing is the essence of freestyle skiing. The discipline was contested as a demonstration sport at Calgary 1988 and made its Olympic debut with mogul events at Albertville 1992. Freestyle skiing was affectionately known as ‘hotdogging’ in the 1970s.

Athletes are evaluated on overall composition of the run, sequence and variety of tricks, the amount of risk in the routine, and how they use the course

Ski poles facilitate balance and enable stopping

Ski boots protect against jolts and bumps

Helmet is mandatory

Goggles protect eyes against weather and UV rays

Gloves are compulsory

EVOLUTION OF EVENTS

Halfpipe,

Slopestyle

Moguls

Athletes ski down a slope while negotiating a series of bumps or moguls, performing two jumps along the way.

Aerials

Athletes ski down a short in-run before launching themselves into the air and performing tricks for style points.

75m–125m

Length

200m–250m

Length

115m–135m

Ski Cross

Four racers in each qualifying heat race down the course in a single knockout run. The top two advance to next round.

Halfpipe

Competitors go from one side to the other and perform tricks while in the air above the sides of the pipe.

180m–250m

Length

800m–1,200m

Length

155m–195m

Slopestyle

Athletes perform spins, flips, grinds and grabs on a mix of technical street-style obstacles and launch ramps.

Big Air

Skiers ride down a ramp to launch off a large ski jump that propels them into the air where they perform tricks.

40m–

50m

125m–175m

Length

500m–600m

Length

125m–175m

SOURCE: REUTERS

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2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft complete selection order – NHL.com

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NEW YORK — The National Hockey League announced today the order of selection for the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft, July 7-8 at Bell Centre in Montreal.

The host Montreal Canadiens own the first overall selection and a League-high 14 overall; the most picks made by a club in one year since the introduction of the 7-round draft in 2005 is 13 (NY Islanders in 2006 and 2008, Florida in 2010 and Carolina in 2021).

The first round of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be broadcast on Thursday, July 7, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN+ in the U.S. and Sportsnet, TVA Sports in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will air on NHL Network, ESPN+ in the U.S. and on Sportsnet, TVA Sports in Canada on Friday, July 8 at 11 a.m. ET.

 
Round 1
1. Montreal
2. New Jersey
3. Arizona
4. Seattle
5. Philadelphia
6. Columbus (from CHI)
7. Ottawa
8. Detroit
9. Buffalo
10. Anaheim
11. San Jose
12. Columbus
13. NY Islanders
14. Winnipeg
15. Vancouver
16. Buffalo (from VGK)
17. Nashville
18. Dallas
19. Minnesota (from LAK)
20. Washington
21. Pittsburgh
22. Anaheim (from BOS)
23. St. Louis
24. Minnesota
25. Toronto
26. Montreal (from CGY)
27. Arizona (from CAR via MTL)
28. Buffalo (from FLA)
29. Edmonton
30. Winnipeg (from NYR)
31. Tampa Bay
32. Arizona (from COL)
 
Round 2
33. Montreal
34. Arizona
35. Seattle
36. Arizona (from PHI)
37. New Jersey
38. Chicago
39. Ottawa
40. Detroit
41. Buffalo
42. Anaheim
43. Arizona (from SJS)
44. Columbus
45. Arizona (from NYI)
46. Washington (from WPG)
47. Minnesota (from VAN via ARI)
48. Vegas
49. Seattle (from NSH)
50. Dallas
51. Los Angeles
52. Detroit (from WSH)
53. Anaheim (from PIT)
54. Boston
55. Winnipeg (from STL via NYR)
56. Minnesota *
57. Chicago (from MIN)
58. Seattle (from TOR)
59. Calgary
60. Carolina
61. Seattle (from FLA via CGY)
62. Montreal (from EDM)
63. NY Rangers
64. Ottawa (from TBL)
65. NY Islanders (from COL)

* Pick 56 – Compensatory pick (MIN did not sign 2018 1st-round pick Filip Johansson)
 
Round 3
66. Montreal
67. Arizona
68. Seattle
69. Philadelphia
70. New Jersey
71. Carolina (from CHI)
72. Ottawa
73. Detroit
74. Buffalo
75. Montreal (from ANA)
76. San Jose
77. Winnipeg (from CBJ)
78. NY Islanders
79. Toronto (from WPG via VAN)
80. Vancouver
81. Chicago (from VGK)
82. Nashville
83. Dallas
84. Nashville (from LAK)
85. Washington
86. Los Angeles (from PIT)
87. Ottawa (from BOS)
88. St. Louis
89. Minnesota
90. Chicago (from TOR via CGY)
91. Boston (from CGY)
92. Montreal (from CAR)
93. Florida
94. Chicago (from EDM)
95. Vegas (from NYR)
96. Columbus (from TBL)
97. Colorado
 
Round 4
98. Montreal
99. Winnipeg (from ARI)
100. Seattle
101. Philadelphia
102. New Jersey
103. Tampa Bay (from CHI)
104. Ottawa
105. Detroit
106. Buffalo
107. Anaheim
108. San Jose
109. Columbus
110. New Jersey (from NYI)
111. NY Rangers (from WPG via VGK)
112. Vancouver
113. Detroit (from VGK)
114. Nashville
115. Dallas
116. Los Angeles
117. Seattle (from WSH)
118. Pittsburgh
119. Boston
120. St. Louis
121. Minnesota
122. Columbus (from TOR)
123. Seattle (from CGY)
124. Carolina
125. Florida
126. New Jersey (from EDM)
127. Montreal (from NYR via FLA)
128. Montreal (from TBL)
129. Detroit (from COL)

Round 5
130. Montreal
131. Arizona
132. Seattle
133. Philadelphia
134. Buffalo (from NJD)
135. Vegas (from CHI)
136. Ottawa
137. Detroit
138. San Jose (from BUF via VGK)
139. Anaheim
140. San Jose
141. New Jersey (from CBJ)
142. NY Islanders
143. Ottawa (from WPG)
144. Vancouver
145. Vegas
146. Nashville
147. Dallas
148. Los Angeles
149. Washington
150. Pittsburgh
151. Ottawa (from BOS)
152. St. Louis
153. Minnesota
154. Anaheim (from TOR)
155. Calgary
156. Carolina
157. Florida
158. Edmonton
159. NY Rangers
160. Tampa Bay
161. Colorado
 
Round 6
162. Montreal
163. Arizona
164. Seattle
165. Philadelphia
166. New Jersey
167. Chicago
168. Ottawa
169. Tampa Bay (from DET)
170. Buffalo
171. Carolina (from ANA)
172. San Jose
173. Chicago (from CBJ)
174. NY Islanders
175. Winnipeg
176. Vancouver
177. Vegas
178. Anaheim (from NSH)
179. Dallas
180. Los Angeles
181. Washington
182. Pittsburgh
183. Boston
184. St. Louis
185. Minnesota
186. Florida (from TOR via CBJ)
187. Buffalo (from CGY via FLA)
188. Carolina
189. Florida
190. Edmonton
191. NY Rangers
192. Tampa Bay
193. Colorado

Round 7
194. Montreal
195. San Jose (from ARI)
196. Seattle
197. Philadelphia
198. New Jersey
199. Chicago
200. Boston (from OTT)
201. Detroit
202. Buffalo
203. Columbus (from ANA)
204. San Jose
205. Carolina (from CBJ)
206. Ottawa (from NYI)
207. Winnipeg
208. Vancouver
209. Vegas
210. Nashville
211. Buffalo (from DAL)
212. Detroit (from LAK)
213. Washington
214. Pittsburgh
215. Boston
216. Montreal (from STL via PHI and ARI)
217. San Jose (from MIN)
218. Toronto
219. Calgary
220. Carolina
221. Florida
222. Edmonton
223. Tampa Bay (from NYR)
224. Tampa Bay
225. Colorado

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Tim Hortons, Esso withdraw for world juniors in another blow for Hockey Canada – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, June 29, 2022 6:58PM EDT

TORONTO – Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil have joined a growing list of corporations to pull sponsorship dollars in the wake of Hockey Canada’s handling of an alleged sexual assault and out-of-court settlement.

Tim Hortons said Wednesday it is “suspending support” for the upcoming men’s world junior hockey championship this summer in Edmonton as the restaurant chain awaits details on how the national federation intends to take “strong and definitive action” following the “deeply concerning allegations.”

Hockey Canada has communicated that it is committed to changing the culture of hockey to make it safer and more inclusive for all, on and off the ice,” Tim Hortons said in the statement. “We have expressed strongly that we believe Canadians are urgently seeking concrete details from Hockey Canada about how it intends to do so.

“We will re-evaluate our sponsorship agreement once we have all the information we need to consider our options.”

Imperial Oil, which is the head sponsor of the Canadian national women’s under-18 hockey club championship under its Esso brand, also said it is withdrawing support from the world junior championship while continuing to sponsor youth and women’s programs.

The energy company took a more definitive step Wednesday, a day after releasing a statement saying it was “concerned by the recent allegations.”

“Imperial will not be supporting the upcoming 2022 men’s world junior championship with the Esso brand,” the company said Wednesday. “This matter is deeply concerning, and we have communicated our expectations to Hockey Canada that concrete steps must be taken to address safety issues and ensure swift culture change.”

The moves come after Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Telus all paused Hockey Canada sponsorships Tuesday until the companies are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the sport’s culture.

The federal government froze Hockey Canada’s public funding last week.

Hockey Canada quietly settled a lawsuit last month after a woman, now 24, claimed she was assaulted by members of the country’s 2018 gold-medal winning world junior hockey team at a gala and golf function four years ago in London, Ont.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Hockey Canada executives were grilled by legislators on Parliament Hill last week during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting looking into the matter.

Scotiabank president and CEO Brian J. Porter said in an open letter Tuesday that marketing and events at the world juniors will be cancelled.

He said the investments would be redirected into other programs, including one that aims to help eliminate financial barriers for young people in the game, and the women’s world championship.

Canadian Tire said in its statement the company is “deeply disappointed in Hockey Canada’s lack of transparency and accountability around the assault allegations.” In addition to withdrawing support from the world juniors, Canadian Tire said it is “re-evaluating its relationship with Hockey Canada.”

Telus, meanwhile, said it’s redirecting sponsorship money to Canadian organizations that support women affected by sexual violence. The telecommunications giant added it would continue to support women’s events and youth programs.

Business development and partnerships have previously made up 43 per cent of Hockey Canada’s coffers, according to the organization’s most recent numbers, ahead of funding agencies (14 per cent), insurance premiums (13 per cent), interest revenue (10 per cent) and the taxpayer funds (six per cent).

Hockey Canada said last week it needs to “do more” to build a safer culture following a tumultuous few days that included president Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney getting called to the floor by parliamentarians.

“Unfortunately, we did not receive many answers,” Pascale St-Onge, the federal government’s minister of sport, told reporters in Ottawa last Wednesday.

She said at the time Hockey Canada would only have its public money restored once officials produced an incomplete report from a third-party law firm hired to investigate the 2018 incident that allegedly involved eight players.

St-Onge added Hockey Canada must also become a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to independently investigate abuse complaints and levy sanctions.

The woman who made the assault allegation was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players.

Details of the settlement have not been publicized, but Smith testified to the committee Hockey Canada came up with the funds and paid the entire sum, adding no government money was used.

St-Onge has ordered an audit to make sure that’s the case.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is set to meet July 26 and 27 to hear from more witnesses. It has also requested a redacted copy of the non-disclosure agreement related to the financial settlement along with a long list of Hockey Canada communications.

St-Onge has said she only learned of the situation on call with Renney days before TSN broke the story last month. Hockey Canada said it informed Sport Canada of the situation in June 2018.

The House of Commons, meanwhile, has unanimously approved a Bloc Quebecois motion to pursue an independent investigation that will look into how Hockey Canada dealt with the allegations.

The organization hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct its investigation, but Smith and Renney told MPs that while players present at the London event were “strongly encouraged” to participate, it was not mandated.

Smith said 12 or 13 of the 19 players from the world junior team at the gala were interviewed by investigators.

Hockey Canada has said repeatedly the woman declined to speak with both police and its third-party law firm.

Smith and Renney reiterated to the committee the woman also chose not to name the players. They added Hockey Canada still does not know the identities of the eight players in question.

The independent investigation ended in September 2020, but Renney testified the report is incomplete and shouldn’t be released despite the fact in contained recommendations.

Smith testified last week on Parliament Hill that Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but declined to discuss the other two in front of the committee.

The NHL, which has said it also only recently learned of the allegations, is conducting its own investigation because some of the players in question are now in the league.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

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Sea Dogs win Memorial Cup, defeating Bulldogs in the Final – Sportsnet.ca

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The Saint John Sea Dogs turned a devastating playoff loss into a Memorial Cup championship, thanks to renewed focus, 40 days of sweat and a university coach who pushed all the right buttons.

Considered a long shot at the beginning of the Canadian Hockey League championship due to a first-round loss in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, the Memorial Cup host Sea Dogs downed the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in Wednesday’s final.

Saint John scored twice in the first six minutes of both the first and second periods and rode the emotion of a sellout crowd to win the championship for the second time in its 17-year history.

It was another national title for Gardiner MacDougall, a seven-time University Cup champion with the University of New Brunswick, who replaced Gordie Dwyer as head coach on May 22 and was credited for the revamped enthusiasm within the team that went 47-17-1-3 in the regular season before a stunning playoff loss to the Rimouski Oceanic in May.

“It was just a complete team effort,” said MacDougall. “The players are most important. They really bought in and they were all so receptive. This is as hard as I have ever worked a team.”

Cam MacDonald had a goal and an assist for the champions, while Josh Lawrence, Peter Reynolds and William Dufour — the tournament’s most valuable player — had one of each. Captain Vincent Sevigny rounded out the scoring for Saint John. 

“It makes it more special because everyone thought we were the underdogs, not the Sea Dogs,” said Scott McCain, who’s owned the team since 2005. “You know what? We proved we deserved to be here. We were the best team in the round robin and we won this game decisively today.”

Anaheim Ducks prospect Mason McTavish, with two goals, and Jan Mysak answered for the Bulldogs, who advanced to the final with a 4-3 overtime over Shawinigan in Monday’s semifinal.

Saint John goaltender Nikolas Hurtubise, acquired by the Sea Dogs at the QMJHL trade deadline, posted his third victory of the tournament with 25 saves.

“We have worked so hard and I am so, so proud,” said Hurtubise. “We knew that we worked too hard in the past month to not win it. We earned it.”

Hamilton’s Marco Costantini stopped 21 of 26 shots in the loss.

The Sea Dogs also won the Memorial Cup in 2011. Their win on Wednesday marks the sixth time a QMJHL team has won the Memorial Cup in the last 10 tournaments.

The 2020 and 2021 Memorial Cup events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton was making its second Memorial Cup appearance after advancing to the 2018 semifinals where they fell to the Regina Pats.

The Sea Dogs defeated the Bulldogs 5-3 in the opening game of the tournament and used the same script Wednesday, scoring early.

Sevigny accepted a feed from Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Villeneuve and his blast hit the stick of Hamilton’s Arber Xhekaj and whipped past Costantini 2:35 into the game.

“It is amazing,” Sevigny said. “It was a lot of hard work and the work paid off. To have this is the best day of our lives.”

Just over three minutes later, Villeneuve made another slick move on the right side boards and hit MacDonald in the slot. He made no mistake when he wristed a quick shot to beat Costantini at the 5:47 mark.

McTavish picked up his fifth of the tournament when he redirected a Nathan Staios shot past Hurtubise at 7:45 to calm the crowd and give Hamilton a much needed injection of offence.

Bezeau — a forward from Rothesay, N.B., who started attending Sea Dogs games at age five — patiently held the puck on a rush down the right side before connecting on a wrist shot 4:41 into the second.

Dufour, who led the tournament with seven goals, ripped a feed from Ryan Francis 5:15 into the period to give the Sea Dogs a 4-1 lead.

Hamilton allowed several other golden chances but came within two goals when Mysak had a Gavin White shot glance off him and past Hurtubise with nine seconds left in the period.

Lawrence put the Sea Dogs on the brink of the title with a sharp shot to the top corner on a feed from Dufour on a power play 6:32 into the third.

McTavish added his second of the night with 4:57 left on the game clock.

Reynolds fired a puck into an empty to seal the win at 18:43.

“The message to the boys was they’re a champion of champions,” said Hamilton coach Jay McKee. “What made the difference is (Saint John) capitalized on their big chances.”

Saint John earned the bye to the final with two wins and an overtime loss to the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings in preliminary action.

The Bulldogs won the Ontario Hockey League championship to advance to the Memorial Cup but dropped their first two games of the preliminary round to set up a series of do-or-die contests, starting with a 4-2 victory against the Oil Kings.

In a thrilling semifinal on Monday, Mysak scored 10:08 into overtime to lift Hamilton past the Shawinigan Cataractes 4-3.

Despite Wednesday’s loss, the Bulldogs earned their OHL championship and are proud of the run at the Memorial Cup, said Staios, the CHL’s defenceman of the year. 

“It took two months of war to get to it,” he said. “We beat every championship team here. We beat the WHL, we beat the QMJHL, so (it) stings but you know, we’re proud of ourselves. We’re going to keep our heads high.”

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