SAINT JOHN, N.B. — New jerseys, new coach and new attitude — the Saint John Sea Dogs are making the best of a fresh reset after a disappointing playoff implosion.

First-round losers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs to the underdog Rimouski Oceanic — dropping the fifth and deciding game of the series 30 seconds into overtime — the Sea Dogs fired bench boss Gordie Dwyer, hired interim coach Gardiner MacDougall and went to work on contending for the Memorial Cup as the host team.

So far, so good.

On Monday, in the first round-robin game of the major junior hockey league championship, the Sea Dogs started strong and then hung on to beat the Ontario Hockey League champion Hamilton Bulldogs 5-3 at the TD Station, despite not playing a competitive game since their May 12 playoff exit.

Monday's action also marked the first Memorial Cup game in three years due to COVID cancellations.

Yan Kuznetsov, Raivis Kristians Ansons, William Dufour, Ryan Francis and Peter Reynolds scored for the Sea Dogs, who outshot Hamilton36-20. Philippe Daoust chipped in with three assists, while Francis had two.

Ryan Winterton had two goals and assist for the Bulldogs, while teammate Avery Hayes had a goal and assist.

The Sea Dogs wore a commemorative jersey for the tournament opener. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command Poppy Trust.

POKE CHECKS: The Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings play the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Shawinigan Cataractes on Tuesday. … Hamilton's next game will be Thursday against Shawinigan, while Saint John plays Wednesday against Edmonton. … The Canadian Hockey League announced a new point system hours before the start of the 102nd Memorial Cup. Teams will now earn three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win and one point for an overtime loss during the six-game, round robin portion of the event. The CHL also announced that sudden-death overtime will be played in a 3-on-3 format in 20-minute periods during the round robin. Overtime for tiebreakers and playoff games will be 5-on-5.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2022