The Vankleek Hill Junior “C” Cougars are one win away from claiming the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) championship.
The Cougars have taken the first three games of their series against the Clarence Castors in the finals of the 2018-2019 NCJHL playoffs.
On Friday, the teams met in Clarence for the first game of the series. The East Division’s top two teams would not disappoint in their opening contest, skating to a tight 2-1 game in the Cougars’ favour after the first. In the second, the Cougars would push their advantage, scoring twice more to make it 4-1 by the end of the period. However, the Castors would not go quietly, scoring two goals of their own in the third to cut the Vankleek Hill lead to one. Despite a close finish, the Cougars would hold on to take the game 4-3 for a 1-0 series lead.
For the second game, the series moved to Vankleek Hill, with the Cougars looking to extend their lead in front of the home crowd. After a scoreless first period, the Cougars would give their fans a reason to cheer, scoring the lone goal of the frame to nab a 1-0 lead heading into the third. The game would continue to be a tight affair right to the final buzzer. First, the Cougars would score to extend their lead before the Castors notched one of their own to keep the game within one. However, the Cougars would answer back on the next shift to restore the two-goal cushion. With two minutes to play, the Castors would score to once again cut the Cougars lead but ultimately, the Cougars would hold on to take their second game of the finals.
Sunday saw the two teams meet for the third straight day in a pivotal game three matchup. Looking to keep their feet on the gas, the Cougars would open the scoring with two goals in the first. Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period, leaving Vankleek Hill just twenty minutes from a 3-0 series lead. But the Cougars would not be content to coast to victory in this one, notching two more goals in the final frame to power their way to a convincing 4-0 final. Ryan Allen, Nikolas Ayotte, and Nicolas Castonguay would each tally two points in the win, while keeper Frederick Durocher would stop all Clarence shots for the shutout.
The fourth game of the series goes Saturday, March 30 at 9:00 p.m. in Vankleek Hill.