Moncton’s Aiden MacIntosh and the entire Saint John Sea Dogs organization are ready to put the past two seasons behind them.
“We faced many daily challenges being part of a rebuild,” confessed MacIntosh, who is getting ready to begin his third season in the QMJHL.
Obviously, the Sea Dogs organization are taking strides to turn things around and believe they can be a Championship caliber team in a few short years.
The team definitely shows promise with a solid young core of skilled players, however to some on the outside looking in the Dogs rebuild is still lacking considerable direction.
“Being so young, a lot of people didn’t have many expectations for us last year, but the main thing during the tough times was to stay positive and confident moving forward,” explained MacIntosh.
Championship aspirations, optimism, projection, expectations and reality, all aspects Trevor Georgie and the Sea Dogs have been trying to balance.
Things haven’t been good in the Port City on ice or off, since the team captured the 2017 President Cup.
For the past two seasons the Sea Dogs have found themselves on the downward trend of junior hockey’s dreaded cycle.
Nevertheless, MacIntosh believes he and the rest of team are “all in” and ready to live up to the lofty expectations and projections.
“Heading into this year our team has big upside and will be able to surprise teams with the group we have.”
The 18-year-old passionate skilled gritty winger is anxious for a fresh start and hopes to have a career year.
“I’m going to be a leader this year, and I will take a lot of pride in helping the younger guys through the tough times.”
“I know exactly how tough it can be after playing on struggling teams my first two years,” admitted MacIntosh.
MacIntosh’s journey in the junior ranks started as a 16-year-old playing in the Maritime Hockey League with the now defunct St. Stephen Aces, a developmental experience that the young man will never forget.
“Playing Junior ‘A’ helped me make the jump to the Q,” admitted MacIntosh.
“I enjoyed my time with the Aces and I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to play in front of such great fans in a passionate hockey community.”
“I believe the time there playing against older guys on a weak team allowed me to get my feet wet in junior hockey and being on the ice everyday was great for my development compared to Midget. It was a sacrifice that I’m glad I made.”
From the MHL to the QMJHL, MacIntosh continues to embrace the journey, but wants to make the most out of his time with the Dogs.
The proud Monctonian believes he can bring a solid two-way presence to the Dogs lineup.
“I’ll be key on penalty kill this year and when the game is on the line I want to be a difference maker.”
MacIntosh had 12 points in 48 games with the Dogs last season, however he showed a lot of promise while being bombarded with adversity.
“Last year was really tough for me, battling through injuries and to stay in the lineup, but the main thing was trying to stay positive and confident.”
The significance of his journey in the game and path to get to the QMJHL is certainly not lost on the quiet confident forward.
“My parents have done so much for me with all of the sacrifices they have made driving me to all the practices, games and tournaments.”
“My dad spent countless hours flooding our backyard rink, that was a huge part of my development as a kid.”
“We had the rink for eleven years and I have unreal memories from my time spent out there, all thanks to my parents.”
So through all the adversity and usual ups and downs of junior hockey coupled with being part of a rebuilding team what toll did last season actually have on the teams overall psyche?
“As a team we learned a lot on our 17 game losing streak, we had to figure it out within the room.”
“That was a really low point in the season, but it was a huge lesson for the group and we learned what it meant to really gel together and make it happen.”
“It was a really good opportunity for me to learn about myself and about the teamwork required to be successful.”
“Moving forward I’m excited to apply this and help the boys grow more this year.”
Spoken like a true team first guy and natural leader.
MacIntosh’s hard work and dedication to his craft hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Aiden is a player that has put a tremendous amount of work into his off-season training in order to become faster, more powerful and to allow for more confidence with the puck,” said Sea Dogs Head Coach Josh Dixon.
“We as a staff believe the increased confidence and also assertiveness to make plays will allow Aiden to see his production increase this season offensively.”
“We will look for him to provide an increased role on the penalty kill in addition to playing center to start the season,” added Dixon.
MacIntosh ramped up his off-season training regime under the watchful eye of longtime pro and skills coach Derek Cormier.
“It’s really special to have someone like Derek here,” said MacIntosh.
“Obviously, he’s had a long career, but he’s still definitely in his game shape, it’s really neat watching him.”
“We are really lucky to be working with him over the summer. I think the biggest thing this past year for me was confidence, but I’m looking to improve every aspect of my game.”
“I really think all the ice that we have had this summer with him has really helped me.”
So what does the future hold for Aiden MacIntosh?
“I want to establish myself as really good player in the league and hope with my hard work to get opportunity at the pro level.”
“Playing university hockey and getting a degree is important to me, I’ll see what options I have when the time comes, but I have always dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League, that is my goal.”