Year Ten of the Wildcats franchise changed the team’s record book. Not only did the team capture the President Cup but during the regular season, the Cats had 52 victories, finished atop the QMJHL standings with 107 points, had the fewest goals against 184, was ranked the top team in the country by the CHL, captured the League Championship for the first time and the list went on and on.
There were outstanding individual records, centre Philippe Dupuis ended the season with 108 points, left winger Stephane Goulet netted 51 goals, defenceman Keith Yandle finished third in team scoring with 84 points and seven Wildcats had 20 or more goals.
Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Ted Nolan , along with associate coach Danny Flynn and assistant coach Dan Lacroix worked wonders preparing the team to host the Memorial Cup. The mix of veterans and free agents jelled and the trades made before the January deadline added strength to an already first place team. 20 year-old goaltender Josh Tordjman was obtained from the Victoriaville Tigres, while Luc Boudron , joined the team from Val d’Or, following an outstanding performance on defence with Team Canada at the World Juniors. In a deal with the P.E.I. Rocket, Moncton got David MacDonald , who added more defensive depth. The free agents the Wildcats had signed before the start of the season did exactly what Nolan and his coaching staff wanted. They brought the grit and determination necessary in a championship team. The Wildcats were prepared for a run at the League Championship and the Memorial Cup.
In addition to their on-ice success, the addition of Jack Adams Trophy winner, Ted Nolan as the Head Coach brought a profile of success to the community. The former NHL Coach of the Year knew the importance of building fan support and his willingness to share the team’s victories and few defeats during post game shows following weekend games brought standing room only crowds to the Coliseum Lounge.
With first place achieved on the last weekend of the season, the Wildcats started their playoff run in Victoriaville. The Tigres won the first game of the first round, giving the highly favored Wildcats a reality check. The shock of losing to an inferior team brought the competitive juices of the Cats to life and the won the next four games to take the series. The Halifax Mooseheads were the opposition in the quarter-final round and again Moncton won the best of seven set in five games. The semi-final series saw Moncton take on the always strong Gatineau Olympiques, a team that had defeated the Wildcats for the President’s Cup two years before. The series went five games with the Cats exacting a measure of revenge, clinching the series in the Olympiques home rink.
The final playoff round featured the Wildcats and the Quebec Remparts. The series brought out that special drama associated with playoff hockey. The Moncton Coliseum rocked as the home team won the first two games in overtime by scores of 4-3 and 3-2.
The Remparts rebounded on their home ice at the Colisée Pepsi, taking game three with a 3-1 victory, and then edging the Wildcats 4-3 in another overtime thriller in game four. Moncton set the stage for a home-ice series victory when they scored 13 seconds into overtime in game five for a dramatic 3-2 win. Two nights later on May 14, 2006, in front of a full house at a very noisy Coliseum, the Wildcats downed the Remparts 3-2 and won their first President Cup. Team captain Christian Gaudet accepted the Trophy from League Commissioner Gilles Courteau and immediately gave it to team owner Robert Irving. Lifting the silver cup high, Mr. Irving accepted the cheers of players and fans as his dream of building a championship team became a reality.
Interest in the Wildcats run for the championship was evident, not only in Moncton but around the world. With the support of Aliant, the team video streamed all of the playoff games on the internet and a total of over 204,000 hits were recorded on the team’s website during the 21 playoff games.
The Wildcats then faced their final challenge of the year, the battle for the historic Memorial Cup. Moncton was Hockey-Town Canada from May 19th to the 28th.
The Vancouver Giants represented the Western Hockey League, the Peterborough Petes were the champion team from the Ontario League, which the Quebec Remparts, runner up team in the QMJHL and the Wildcats battled for Canada’s Junior Hockey championship.
In the round-robin tournament, the Wildcats won 3-2 over Vancouver, downed Peterborough 4-2, lost 4-3 to Quebec and again defeated the Giants in a semi-final game 3-1. For the first time in the history of the Memorial Cup, two teams from the QMJHL, the Wildcats and Remparts would meet in the final. Two weeks after losing to the Wildcats in the President Cup Final, the Remparts prevailed winning 6-2 and were crowned Memorial Cup Champions 2006.
The Wildcats fell one game short of achieving their goal of winning the National Championship but as the disappointed of the final loss faded, players and fans together celebrated, a Season to be Remembered.
TOP ROW: Guy Savoie (Athletic Therapist) , Chris Morehouse
, Nick Emmanuele
, Andrew MacDonald
, Tim Spencer
, Matt Marquardt
, Danny MacKinnon
, Matt Eagles
, David MacDonald
, Serge Leblanc (Equipment Manager).
|Most Valuable Player||Philippe Dupuis|
|Leading Scorer||Philippe Dupuis|
|Rookie of the Year||Jean-Philipp Chabot|
|Outstanding Athletic & Scholastic Performance||Jerome Samson|
|Most Improved Player||Jerome Samson|
|Outstanding Defensive Defenseman||Keith Yandle|
|Community Spirit Award||Chris Morehouse|
|Players Choice Award||Philippe Dupuis|
|Unsung Hero||Jerome Samson|
|RD||RA||TM||Name||Birth date||Pos.||Last team|
|4||68||MON||Pierre-Marc Lessard||1989-06-15||W||Rive Sud|
|8||140||MON||Zach Sill||1988-05-24||W||Cole Harbour|
|9||158||MON||Matt Eagles||1988-01-18||W||St-Paul Prep|
|12||212||MON||Brian Strait||1988-01-04||D||U.S. Natl. U-18 Team|
|15||260||MON||Paul Snell||1988-04-04||C||New Eng. Huskies|