The Vankleek Hill Cougars will honor graduating players from last year, as the team faces off against the St-Isidore Eagles this Saturday (December 18) in a battle for fifth place in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL).

Vankleek Hill and St-Isidore’s Junior C squads find themselves tied for fifth place in the nine-team NCJHL, each with 18 points, as they head into the final weekend of play before the league’s Christmas break. The two teams will battle for the position this Saturday evening at the Vankleek Hill Arena, in a game that starts at 7:20 p.m.

“It’s going to be a really good game,” said Cougars Head Coach Franky Dopelhamer. “These are two really important games for us before the Christmas break.”

Saturday’s game will also feature a tribute to the graduating players from the Cougars’ 2020-2021 team. A ceremony is being held prior to the game for the graduating players from last year, who will also participate in the ceremonial opening faceoff.

The evening will also mark the final day of the Cougars’ week-long collection for the Vankleek Hill Food Bank. Fans at Saturday’s game are encouraged to bring along a donation of a non-perishable food item to contribute to the collection.

The Cougars dropped a 3-1 road decision to the Clarence Castors last Sunday, December 13, as the Vankleek Hill squad once again got off to a slow start against the league’s top team.

Zachary Bigras scored the lone marker for Vankleek Hill in the second period, after Cedrik Bisson, Tyler Cummings and Jacob Servant had staked the Castors to a 3-0 lead in the first. The win by Clarence was their fourth straight against the Cougars and closed out the season series between the two teams.

“We woke up in the second period and the third, but we couldn’t capitalize on the chances we got,” said Dopelhamer. “We played well; we just got off to a bad start.”

After their home game against the Eagles, Vankleek Hill travels to face the South Grenville Rangers at the Cardinal Arena on Sunday, December 19, in the team’s final game of 2021. Game time is 4:15 p.m. Play in the NCJHL will resume again in January after the Christmas break.

– with files from Mackenzie Hinton