The Clarence Castors will look to wrap up their second round National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) series against the Gatineau-Hull Volant this Thursday, but it won’t be easy.

The Volant showed they were not ready to go quietly into the night last Sunday (March 13), as they rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit by playing their best game of the series to stave off a series sweep with a 4-1 victory at Centre Slush Puppie.

Game time in Clarence this Thursday evening is 8:20 p.m. If the series is extended, Game 6 would be in Gatineau on Friday evening (March 18). If necessary, a seventh game will be played in Clarence over the weekend (TBD).

The Castors were looking solid in the series, winning the first two games easily by scores of 5-2 at home in Game 1, followed by a 3-0 shutout in Gatineau. Things began to turn around on Saturday evening (March 12) in Clarence, when a desperate Gatineau-Hull squad took the home team to two overtimes before the Castors scored to eke out a 5-4 win.

Game 5 on Thursday night should be a barn burner!

South Grenville-North Dundas series tied 2-2

It’s been a fantastic pair of second round NCJHL playoff series, as the South Grenville Rangers and North Dundas Rockets are battling back and forth in their series.

The Rockets hammered the Rangers 5-0 on Sunday, March 13, at home at the Chesterville and District Arena to even the series at 2-2 after the Rangers had taken a narrow 4-3 overtime win in Cardinal on Saturday night (March 12).

This is a very evenly matched series, with two of the four games so far going to overtime and I fully expect this one to go to the full seven games.

Hawks drop in CJHL rankings despite wins

Despite winning both their games handily last week, the Hawkesbury Hawks actually dropped in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) rankings by three spots when the new list came out this week.

The latest CJHL Hockey Weekly Top 20 released on Monday, March 14, shows the Hawks ranked 20th overall in Canada – a drop from 17th last week. The Ottawa Junior Senators, who were sixth last week, now rank fourth.

Maintaining the No. 1 slot in the listings, which are compiled via an independent scouting service, are the Brooks Bandits (AJHL). The regular season title holders in Alberta are gearing up to begin their opening playoff series later this week.

At No. 2 once again is Collège Français de Longueuil. The front-runners in Quebec boast a LHJAAAQ-best record of 31-4-1-0.

Over in the Maritimes, the third-ranked Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) are rolling along nicely at 29-4-1-1 and have a 13-point cushion in their quest to claim the top seed for their upcoming playoffs.

Eve Gascon joins Gatineau Olympiques

Goaltender Eve Gascon is making women’s hockey history.

The 18-year-old female netminder was called up by the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last Saturday (March 12) and served as the team’s backup goaltender in Sunday’s game against Val d’Or at the Slush Puppie Centre.

Gascon has a record of 10-5-0 playing with the Saint-Laurent Patriotes in the Boys CEGEP league. She sports a 2.81 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage.

Gatineau lost its starting goaltender, Remi Poirier to injury. Gascon has experience with the Olympiques, having been invited to their rookie training camp last fall. She will be joining the NCAA University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s team in the fall of 2023 and is projected to be a future star with the Canadian Women’s national hockey team.

The Gatineau-Hull Volant staved off elimination with a 4-1 victory over the Clarence Castors at the Centre Slush Puppie last Sunday (March 13). The Castors will try to end the series at home this Thursday (March 17) in a game that starts at 8:20 p.m. Photo: Mac Hinton