SAINT JOHN -- With the eyes of the hockey world focused on them, the Saint John Sea Dogs are setting their sights on hosting another major hockey event -- the 2022 Memorial Cup.

On Monday night, the Canada-Russia challenge began in Saint John with the first of two games against Quebec-league players.

"The rivalry between Canada and Russia is like no other in sports, especially in hockey," said Canadian Hockey League spokesperson Paul Krotz.

Saint John's TD Station played host to the first of six games in the Canada-Russia Series.

There will be two games against OHL players and two against WHL opponents.

It is a big part of the evaluation process for Team Canada ahead of the world junior tournament.

"The players that are really hoping to wear the Maple Leaf on their chest at Christmastime," Krotz said. "The games in this series can go a long way in determining their goals."

Halifax Mooseheads forward and team captain Bo Groulx was named captain of team QMJHL.

"A lot of the guys played last year in this event, so I think we're coming here with a mindset of winning," Groulx said.

But it's not just the players on the ice hoping for a win.   

"It's the first time that new CHL president Dan MacKenzie is in Saint John," said Saint John Sea Dogs President Trevor Georgie. "And we have the rest of the hockey world here watching."

The Saint John organization sets its sights on hosting the Memorial Cup in 2022.

"I think it's a small step, but a very important step in our ambitions to host a Mem Cup in Saint John one day," Georgie said.

The six-game series moves on to Moncton Tuesday before leaving the Maritimes and heading to Ontario and then on to Saskatchewan.