The Vankleek Hill Junior “C” Cougars endured a disappointing start to the new year, dropping both of their games over the weekend after what had been a strong finish in the 2018 calendar year.

On Saturday, the Cougars played host to the Clarence Castors in a clash between East Division-leading squads. Vankleek Hill entered the contest with 37 points, just three behind Clarence for top of the division, with a game in hand. Befitting their proximity in the standings, the game would start out as a close affair, with the visitors holding a 2-1 lead at the end of the opening frame. Unfortunately for the Cougars, that would be as close as they would come. The Castors’ offence would assert itself in the second, with the team potting four unanswered goals to extend the lead to 6-2 by the end of the period. The Cougars would score two in the third but it would not be enough to erase the deficit, as Clarence would ultimately take the game by a score of 7-3. Tyler Dopelhamer, Jonathan Leblanc, and Keean McEachern each had a goal, while Nikolas Ayotte, Nicolas Castonguay, Justin Labrosse, and Danny Plourde-Grenon picked up assists in the loss.

Next up, the Cougars travelled to Gatineau to take on the Gatineau Hull-Volant in a Sunday matinee tilt. Looking to rebound from their loss the previous night, the game presented a good opportunity for Vankleek Hill to do just that, with Gatineau sitting at the bottom of the East Division. However, the game would prove to be much closer than intimated by the teams’ standings. Going into the third period, the clubs would sit at two goals apiece, trading markers through both the first and second frames for a score of 2-2. Unfortunately, the tight contest would break Gatineau’s way in the end, with the Hull-Volant squeezing ahead in the third to skate to a 4-3 victory. Ayotte, Castonguay, and Plourde-Grenon would tally the goals for Vankleek Hill, with Vincent Huneault (2a), Labrosse, and Trystan Lavoie rounding out the assists.

The Cougars will look to get back to their winning ways on Saturday when the North Dundas Rockets come to town. Vankleek Hill will then travel to West Carleton to play the Inferno at W. Erskine Johnston Arena.

The Cougars had won eight of their last ten games prior to this weekend. They currently hold second place in their division, seven back of Clarence for the division lead and four ahead of the St-Isidore Eagles.