To the Core

The 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft was the cornerstone for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Trevor Georgie and Anthony Stella wanted to build a championship contender.

Photo Credit La Presse

The second overall draft pick that year was none other than William Villeneuve who became critical pillar to the Sea Dogs foundation.

The rest of the core group selected that day have been through hell and back witnessing and experiencing all of the peaks and valleys that come with Junior hockey’s dreaded cycle.

Photo Credit Vincent Ethier QMJHL

The adversity and pressure surrounding an extremely young nucleus of talented players may have shook their confidence to the very core.

That same group of players now have a chance of a life time, a chance to hoist the Memorial Cup on home ice.

“I think it’s awesome to be able to have a chance to play for a Memorial Cup,” said Villeneuve.

“We have a second chance and not a lot of teams can say that.”

“We are going to try to make the most of it. It’s been a hard twenty five days,” confessed Villeneuve of having the break after losing to Rimouski in the first round.

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to play for a Memorial Cup.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has experienced his fair share of adversity, throughout his tenure with the organization especially this season with an devastating 1st round series loss to the Rimouski Oceanic.

“Obviously, losing to Rimouski was pretty hard. It wasn’t the outcome we were expecting.”

“Having so much success and a fifteen game winning streak we felt very strong coming into the playoffs.”

“Rimouski played a better series overall, it’s been hard, and we took a week to reset and get our minds off of that and we came back strong with Gardiner.”

Photo Credit Saint John Sea Dogs

“We really tried to put all of that behind us and really focus on the Memorial Cup and like I said before there’s a lot of teams out there that would want to get a second chance or opportunity and we have it in front of our fans, which is really exciting.”

“We are trying to learn from the loss to Rimouski and move forward.”

Villeneuve and the rest of the original core group has experienced a vast array of coaching changes over the past four years. Control what you can control and learn from your experiences has become the quiet confident defenders mantra throughout his time in the QMJHL.

“It’s a tough situation,” Villeneuve said of having several coaches.

“I think as a player you just have to take a little bit from all of the coaches that I have had personally.”

“It’s all in the question of mindset, when you have a new coach, you have to prove yourself, and prove to them that what type of player you are and that your willing to work hard.”

“You have to be yourself, and really work hard and try to make a good first impression and really try to learn what type of structure they want to play and what type of players they like.”

“Overall it hasn’t been easy, but obviously I’ve taken a lot from all of the coaches.”

Coming into the QMJHL as a highly touted prospect and living up to that billing isn’t always easy. William Villeneuve experienced that first hand as a 16 year defenceman in the league.

“It’s been a hell of journey.”

“Being 16 and having a tough season and having mono and all that, but when I look back on my four years it’s all about trying to block the noise.”

“I feel at this level there can be a lot of distractions and a lot of people talking to you or the draft or whatever, for me the mentality and how I approach the game is trying to surround myself with good people and have those people in my corner.”

“Having a tight knit corner or group of people talking to me is key, but after my 16 year old season, I really tried to focus on enjoying the game.”

“My mentality since then was just trying to go the rink and have fun and really focus on getting better.”

“I’m really proud of the way I’ve grown, coming into the league I was very offensive minded and I’ve really tried to become a better 200ft defenceman and it has shown and I’m really happy about that.”

Getting drafted into the National Hockey League is something that Villeneuve will never soon forget.

“It was awesome, it’s another step in my dream of playing in the NHL.”

“I’m very lucky to be in Toronto, they have an amazing development staff, and a lot of resources and I’m very grateful to have the people in Toronto that care, and I want me to get better and reach dreams, so it’s been a blessing.”

What would it mean to hoist the Memorial Cup and celebrate that with his family?

“I think it would be all about a four year journey, it would be about all of the work that I’ve put in my life during that time and sacrifices my family and have put into hockey and

to have another chance to have a great moment with my family and my teammates and to win a Memorial Cup in front of our fans would be awesome.”

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