The Vankleek Hill Cougars got off to a mixed start on the team’s opening weekend, rebounding from a Saturday afternoon road loss to top the Morrisburg Lions 4-1 in the Sunday, October 3, home opener at the Vankleek Hill Arena.

Justin Chaumont notched a pair of goals and an assist in the Cougar’s win over Morrisburg, while Simon Levac added a goal and an assist and Nathan Sauvé notched a goal and two assists. Charles Paré got the win in net, allowing only one goal in 40 minutes of play.

Sauvé scored the only goal for the Cougars in the 4-1 season-opening loss to the South Grenville Rangers on Saturday afternoon, October 2, in Prescott. Frederick Durocher-Bourdon took the loss in goal, playing all 60 minutes.

Despite the loss, the Cougars head coach said the team played well on the road.

“(South Grenville) was the top team prior to COVID, and it was as good a first game as you could get,” said Dopelhamer of the team’s close season opening game against their more experienced opponent. “It was a very good test for us.”

With 10 players on the roster who had never played at the Junior level, Dopelhamer said the players were tight in their first regular season game in almost two years. On Sunday against the Lions however, the team shook off the nerves for a dominant 4-1 win at home.

“We really needed that win,” Dopelhamer said. “We really, really wanted a win at home.”

“That game will definitely build the confidence of the newer guys.”

Final attendance figures for Sunday’s game were unavailable, however the stands were very close to the 100-spectator limit for Cougars home games at the Vankleek Hill arena. The team’s coach said players were buoyed by the enthusiastic crowd.

The Cougars also named the team’s leaders for the 2021-2022 National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) season. Justin Chaumont, who as a 21-year-old is in his final junior season, has been named captain. Assistant captains are Zack Labbé, Joshua Renaud and Christophe Quann.

After two games, the Cougars are tied for second in the NCJHL, with three other teams also sitting at one win and one loss. The Clarence Castors sit alone in first in the standings, having won their first two games.

The local Junior C squad will be on the road this Friday, October 8, playing the Gatineau-Hull Volant in an evening game beginning at 7:15 p.m. The Cougars return home on Saturday evening, where they will face off against the Metcalfe Jets at the Vankleek Hill Arena. Game time on Saturday is 7:20 p.m.

Cougars forward Jonathan Campbell (5) chases the puck into the corner in action from Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Morrisburg Lions. Photo Reid Masson