The Vankleek Hill Junior “C” Cougars played their first games of the playoffs over the weekend, winning two out of three to take the early lead in their series against the Bytown Royals.
On Friday, the Cougars traveled to Vanier to play the Royals in the opening game of the 2019 playoffs. Despite the Cougars holding the higher seed, the series would go the Royals’ way early as they would take a 1-0 lead after the first period of game one. Things would continue at the same rate through the second, with both teams adding goals in the period to make it a 3-1 game. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the third would mirror the second, leading to a 5-2 final and 1-0 series lead for the Royals. Jonathan Lacroix would pick up a goal and an assist in the loss.
Saturday would see the Cougars return home for the second game, hungry and looking to post a bounce-back effort to even the series. The home atmosphere would yield a better result for them early, as they would score three straight in the first to take a 3-0 lead. However, Bytown would respond before the end of the frame, potting two quick goals to draw within one. But the Cougars would come alive in the second, scoring four in a row to make it 7-2. The Royals would stick around, but ultimately could not bridge the gap, with the Cougars taking the game by a final score of 9-5 to even the series at one apiece. Justin Labrosse would tally a goal and four assists in the win, while Jacob Trempe would score two goals and two assists of his own. Alexander Labrèche would get the win in goal.
The two teams would meet again on Sunday in Vankleek Hill for the third game of the series. This one would start out as a tight contest, with the Cougars holding the 2-1 lead at the end of the first. But that’s as close as the Royals would come, as the Cougars would add two more in both the second and third periods to cruise to a 6-1 win and a 2-1 series lead. Frederick Durocher would take the victory between the pipes, while Nikolas Ayotte would pick up a goal and two assists. Nine other Cougars would get on the board including multi-point games from Ryan Allen (1g, 1a), Nicolas Castonguay (1g, 1a), Tyler Dopelhamer (1g, 1a), and Labrosse (2a).
The Cougars and Royals will play their next game in Vanier on March 1, before returning to Vankleek Hill for the fifth game of the series on March 2.