Thanks to sponsors Team Bougie and Total Telecom, fans of the Vankleek Hill Cougars will be able to watch their team play for free at the Cougars’ National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) regular season home opener against the Morrisburg Lions this Sunday (October 9). Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury, where the beer garden and restaurant will be open for the game. The Cougars are playing out of the arena in Hawkesbury for the 2022-2023 National Capital Junior Hockey League season while the Vankleek Hill Community Centre undergoes major renovations.
Cougars supporters have reason to be excited for the team’s home opener, as the local Junior C squad won its second straight game to start the season on Sunday afternoon (October 2), topping the Lions 5-4 in Morrisburg. Mikael Bissonnette scored twice, including the winner in the third period, as the Cougars used a four-goal second period on their way to a comeback win. Cedrik Bisson, Rowan McPherson and Landen Sweet had single markers for Vankleek Hill, while Fred Durocher-Bourdon got the win in net with 41 saves on the night.
The Cougars fired 53 shots at the Lions net, with Morrisburg goaltender Andrew Brooks standing on his head in stopping 48. Cougars defenseman Brenden Easterbrook was the player of the game on Sunday, keeping the back end clean all game and excelling at blocking shots.
“It was a really interesting game for our second game of the season,” said Cougars head coach Franky Dopelhamer. “There was a lot of hitting, a couple of suspensions and a lot of goals.”
Morrisburg jumped out to an early lead, firing home two goals and heading into the second frame up 2-0. But the Cougars came alive as the second period turned into a shootout that Vankleek Hill won, as they found the back of the net four times, while Morrisburg scored twice, sending the two teams into the final frame tied 4-4 and setting the stage for Bissonnette’s third period heroics.
The Cougars coaching staff is pleased with what they have seen in the team’s first two games. Trailing several times in the game against the Lions on Sunday, the Vankleek Hill squad refused to quit.
“We showed a lot of character, as Morrisburg had the lead at three different times in the game,” Dopelhamer noted. “I like the team chemistry we are building.”
The Cougars will be operating on little rest for the team’s home debut next Sunday, as they travel to Chesterville the previous night on Saturday, October 8, to face the North Dundas Rockets.
With two wins to open the season, Vankleek Hill is tied for second in the NCJHL standings – two points back of the league leading Gatineau-Hull Volant. The Cougars however have two games in hand, as Gatineau-Hull sports a 3-1 record.
Vankleek Hill acquires local product Joshua Desjardins from Gatineau Flames
The Cougars made another great local acquisition, as the team has acquired the playing rights of Chute-à-Blondeau native Joshua Desjardins from the Gatineau Flames Junior AAA squad.
The speedy Desjardins can put the puck in the net and the 5’6”, 141-pound forward will add extra scoring punch up front for the Cougars.
“Joshua brings lots of speed and experience to our team,” said head coach Franky Dopelhamer. “He will be counted on to help offensively, as he had 29 points in 37 games with the Flames last year.”
Desjardins also had 149 penalty minutes in his 37 games with Gatineau in 2021-2022, showing he is not afraid to mix it up. In four games with the Flames this season, Joshua had a goal and an assist, along with 4 minutes in penalties.
In addition to the Flames, Desjardins has played with Alexandria Glens and the Casselman Vikings. He had 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points with the Hawkesbury Hawks U18 AAA squad during the 2018-2019 season. Joshua played his minor hockey in the Eastern Ontario Cobras system – scoring 25 goals and 24 assists for the Cobras U16 AA team in 2017-2018 – and is excited to be back in the region.
“Josh is really happy to be playing hockey close to home,” Dopelhamer said.
Welcome home Joshua!
Alexandria Glens drop first two games
The Alexandria Glens are off to a tough start for the 2022-2023 Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season, but it is still early in the campaign.
The Glens were hammered 11-0 by the first place Embrun Panthers at the Maxville Sports Complex on Saturday, October 1. Embrun outshot the Glens 60-24.
Alexandria opened the season in Maxville on Friday evening (September 30), with a 4-1 loss to the Char-Lan Rebels. Defenseman Cosimo Repaci scored the lone goal for the Glens, midway through the second period to bring Alexandria to within one. Jordan Stairs was outstanding in the Alexandria net, stopping 40 of the 44 shots fired his way.
Alexandria has been playing out of the Maxville arena while new glass is being installed in the Glengarry Sports Palace in Alexandria.
Known as Vankleek Hill’s Sports Authority, MacKenzie Hinton writes regular sports updates on his popular Facebook page. Mac is the statistician for the Vankleek Hill Cougars and Alexandria Glens Junior hockey clubs. His column appears weekly in The Review.