The Final Shot

To say that Philippe Daoust has been through a lot over the last two and half years would be an understatement of epic proportion.

The quiet ultra talented forward from Barrie, Ontario has experienced all the highs and lows of what the game of hockey could deliver. Adversity has undoubtedly galvanized Daoust’s path in the game, but nothing could prepare him for May 11, 2022 shocking upset overtime loss to the pesky Rimouski Oceanic on TD Station ice.

With all the subsequent changes that happened off the ice with the Sea Dogs organization, it’s refreshing to finally hear from a player that experienced the disappointment first hand.

“The first-round loss was definitely tough,” admitted Daoust.

“It was tough knowing how much success we had in the regular season, and how dominant we were only losing two games coming down the stretch.”

“Seeing that much success and then going into playoffs losing in the first round was personally very disappointing.”

Honesty and transparency. Everyone in the hockey world raves about those two qualities, but they are extremely difficult to find. Phillipe Daoust possesses those qualities, characteristics and more. He’s a heart and soul type player and person and the highly effective playing making, two-way center was definitely the missing piece to the Sea Dogs puzzle when first arrived in the Port City.

Photo Credit Saint John Sea Dogs

“It’s been crazy, coming into the team, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Daoust of the whirlwind coming back to the QMJHL.

“Trades are never easy, being a part of Moncton, which is a great organization and a great group of guys, but I wanted the trade to happen knowing Saint John was a really good hockey team. I knew going into Saint John that we had the team to win a President Cup and the Memorial Cup.”

“It was my final shot to play in the playoffs in the QMJHL.”

“Losing like that was a really crappy feeling, but I think we are in the mindset now that, ‘yeah it happened, it really sucked, but we have to move forward and now we have an opportunity to win the biggest tournament in Canada, that just so happens to be the hardest trophy to win,” explained Daoust.  

Dealing with a shocking loss and having some time off to let that stir and sink was one thing, hearing about the news about Gordie Dwyer was another.

“It’s unfortunate that Gordie isn’t going to be part of it, because he’s a great coach and person.”

“I definitely was shocked when I heard the news about Gordie because of how much winning we did with him behind the bench, especially in the second half.” 

“It’s on the players, we definitely lost that first round.”

“I think every player has some sort of responsibility in that first round lost.”

“It’s hard to blame one person and it’s too bad for that person to get cut out from all of the success that we did have and obviously the failure that we did have, but yeah I was in total shock when Gordie got let go.”

“You never want to see anyone lose their job, but I think bringing a high-level coach who has won a lot like Gardiner has changed the atmosphere around the rink,” said Daoust.

First impressions are everything especially when it comes to a new coach and a group of players looking to impress him. Meeting their new bench boss for the first time was something to reckon with.

Photo Credit Daniel St Louis

“Gardiner is a high character, extremely energetic coach who brings a really good attitude and positive vibe to the dressing room with tons of energy,” explained Daoust.

“But when it comes to the ice, Gardiner is all business.”

“His practices have been very tough.”

“The practices are similar to the practices that I had with Troy Mann in Belleville. They are high intensity, not too long, but high tempo, pro execution and have lots of focus.”

“Gardiner has brought a training camp attitude and mentality after the first round loss.”

“We had some time off after the first-round exit, we knew that the training camp mindset was going to be really tough, but we also knew it had to be done for us to be prepared for this coming week for the Memorial Cup.”

One final shot at junior hockey supremacy isn’t lost on the Ottawa Senators prospect. Daoust’s triumphant rise to the Canadian Hockey League and beyond has been well documented, but it’s a story that every young diminutive player should use as inspiration. From Tier II junior to being signed as a free agent, to being drafted into the National Hockey League, Daoust’s ascension in the game is truly incredible. The dream to play in the QMJHL and beyond almost never happened. That’s what makes this experience and opportunity so special.

“It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe,” Daoust said when asked about playing for a Memorial Cup.

“Every kid growing up playing road hockey or out on the pond they always pretend like they are little broadcasters announcing the game having the puck on their stick in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup.”

“As much as I would say win the Stanley Cup, I would say the same thing about winning the Memorial Cup. It’s always been a dream of mine to win the Memorial Cup,” confessed Daoust.

“Growing up my parents, brother and I have always watched the Memorial Cup, as a family we’ve always dreamed about attending the Memorial Cup, so it’s crazy feeling knowing that I have a chance to lift that Cup over my head.”

“It’s definitely been a crazy few years, especially this year, signing with Belleville and then Ottawa was a dream come true, but part of me was always a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to win a President Cup and have a chance to win a Memorial Cup.”

“The Senators have given me that opportunity to come back to the Q and have a chance to win honestly the most important trophy of my life, I’ve never been in a situation like this, now that I have the opportunity right in front of me, I don’t want to let it slip.”

“Winning the Memorial Cup would definitely mean the world to me; it would mean a lot to my parents and everyone’s family.”

“Every parent wants to see their kid succeed and win.”

For the Daoust family, the dream to attend a Memorial Cup has come true. They will all make the trek from Barrie, Ontario to the Port City to catch all the action and festivities.  

“It would be a dream come true to have that Cup over my head and be with my parents in the dressing room celebrating that with them and giving them a massive hug knowing that it’s the hardest trophy to win.”

“I’m very excited and there’s obviously some nerves as well and that’s all part of it, but it would be a dream come true, I just want to make my parents proud and hopefully they will have a chance to touch the trophy as well.”

Daoust’s advice to other young aspiring players or potential late bloomers that have been passed over or criticized for being too small to have an impact at the next level is clear and concise.

“Always believe in yourself and never quit on your dream.”

“My dream was to always take it step by step and play at the next highest level I could play at, and it doesn’t matter if you get shutdown in many different ways, there’s always another door that opens if you’re committed to your dream and committed to being a hockey player for the rest of your life, you will do everything you can or in your power to make that happen.”

“I would tell any young player going through something similar that I went through, to have confidence in themselves which is something I definitely lacked at that age, I was always being shutdown and told that I wasn’t good enough or too small.”

“I would also tell them and to always bet on yourself knowing the talent you possess.”

“I think every kid goes through a different path, whether that’s a hard path or an easy one, eventually everyone faces adversity or a tough path, so that’s why it’s so important to always bet on yourself and follow your dreams.

The door of opportunity was slammed shut on the Sea Dogs when it came to hoisting a President Cup, but they have one final shot at winning the ultimate prize.

For Philippe Daoust, one final shot is all he ever wanted, it’s all he’s ever dreamed about.

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