Fighting like 'Cats and 'Dogs

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Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs in QMJHL final

In any Battle of Alberta, Red Deer serves as the provincial dividing line for sports fans' allegiances. To the north, they're generally for Edmonton and to the south, it's Calgary.

So in the Battle of New Brunswick between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, in what town would you find people wearing both teams' jerseys?

Scott Trask (left) and Alex Wall.

In any Battle of Alberta, Red Deer serves as the provincial dividing line for sports fans' allegiances. To the north, they're generally for Edmonton and to the south, it's Calgary.

So in the Battle of New Brunswick between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, in what town would you find people wearing both teams' jerseys?

"I would say that Sussex is kind of the halfway point," Wildcats head coach Danny Flynn said Wednesday from Moncton. "It's a great hockey town. I think you might find the allegiances split there."

The Wildcats' roster includes two Newfoundlanders - veteran defenceman Alex Wall of Goulds and rookie forward Scott Trask of Bonavista - but there are questions about whether either will play in the series opener.

Wall, who came to the Wildcats in a mid-season trade with the Montreal Junior, has just resumed practising after recovering from an unspecified injury in the last round against Drummondville. He's listed as day-to-day.

Trask became eligible to return to action this week after serving a 15-game suspension for an illegal hit in the Wildcats' last regular-season game, which happened to be against the Sea Dogs.

As of Wednesday, there was no announced decision on whether Trask would play tonight.

Saint John and Moncton open their best-of-seven QMJHL final tonight at Harbour Station in Saint John. The two cities are about a 90-minute drive apart on the Trans-Canada Highway. The clubs went 4-4 against each other during the regular season.

"I think it's outstanding," Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant said. "The teams are big rivals."

For the first time since Atlantic Canada teams entered the QMJHL in 1994, the championship series pits two teams from the same Maritime province against each other.

"I think it's shaping up to be perhaps the biggest series in the history of hockey in New Brunswick and there's a rich tradition of hockey here," Flynn said.

The winner of the series advances to the Memorial Cup in Brandon, Man., from May 14 to 23. The Wheat Kings have a berth as the host team.

The Sea Dogs joined the QMJHL five years ago as an expansion team and quickly developed a rivalry with the Wildcats, who have been in Moncton for 14 seasons.

That Sea Dogs owner Scott McCain and Wildcats owner Robert Irving are rivals in the food industry only fuels the competition between the clubs.

The Sea Dogs downed the P.E.I. Rocket (five games), Gatineau Olympiques (four games) and Victoriaville Tigers (six games) en route to the President's Cup.

The Wildcats beat Cape Breton, Rouyn-Noranda and Drummondville in five games apiece en route to the final.

A trade show at the Moncton Coliseum almost forced the Wildcats to play the third and fourth games of the series in Halifax, which would have taken the fun out of the all-New Brunswick plot. Flynn says the two clubs reached an agreement late Tuesday to alternate games between the two cities.

Organizations: Wildcats, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Montreal Junior Harbour Station Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Moncton, Saint John, New Brunswick Alberta Red Deer Edmonton Calgary Sussex Goulds Bonavista Atlantic Canada Maritime Brandon Cape Breton Rouyn-Noranda Halifax

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