A late season surge by the Vankleek Hill Cougars moved the team up into fifth place in the National Capital Hockey League standings, as the season ended last weekend.

Vankleek Hill will now face the fourth-place Gatineau-Hull Volant in the first round of the playoffs, with the opening game scheduled for Gatineau’s Slush Puppie Centre on Friday, February 24. Game 2 will be played Sunday, February 26, at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Cougars picked up seven of a possible eight points in their final week to move past St-Isidore into fifth place. Gatineau-Hull finished one point ahead of Vankleek Hill and two points ahead of the St-Isidore Eagles.

Vankleek Hill (20-12-2-2) picked up big wins over the St-Isidore Eagles (20-13-1-2) and the league-leading South Grenville Rangers (26-6-2-1) last week, before fighting to a 2-2 draw against the Clarence Castors (24-8-2-1) on Saturday, February 18. The Cougars closed out the week at home at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury on Sunday (February 19), with a convincing 8-2 win over the Westport Rideaus (11-22-2-1).

Sixth-place St-Isidore will face the third place North Dundas Rockets (24-10-2-0) in the first round, while Clarence will face off against the Morrisburg Lions. First-place South Grenville will face the winner of a three-game series between the Westport Rideaus (11-22-2-1) and Almonte Inferno (10-22-2-2) that will decide eighth place in the standings.

With two goals and three assists for five points, Joshua Desjardins was named Player of the Game on Sunday in Vankleek Hill’s 8-2 win over the Rideaus. Defenseman John Mahoney also had a great night, with a goal and three assists. Jeremie Tessier earned the win in net.

Maxime Laliberté and Xavier Sauvé were the goal scorers for Vankleek Hill in Saturday’s 2-2 road tie with Clarence, while Tristan Bolduc and Alexandre Charlebois replied for the Castors in front of their home crowd.

Cougars defenseman Zachary Bigras scored the overtime winner in Friday’s (February 17) big 4-3 road victory over South Grenville at the Cardinal Arena. Desjardins, Andy Lightle-Blais and Rowan McPherson also scored for Vankleek Hill in the contest.

The great week for the Cougars was set up with a 5-1 win over St. Isidore on Tuesday, February 14, at The Bob. Lightle-Blais scored twice in the contest, while Desjardins, Laliberté and Mahoney added singles. Frederick Duroucher-Bourdon earned the win in net.

Go Cougars!!

Hawks chasing home ice advantage

The Hawkesbury Hawks are in a solid position to earn home ice advantage in the first round of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) playoffs.

Thanks to a torrid start to the second half of the season, Hawkesbury (25-13-4-3) now sits in fourth place overall in the CCHL standings. Standings in each division are thrown out prior to the playoffs, with eight teams qualifying and seeded by the overall league standings. It’s a tight race for the Hawks though, with both the Carleton Place Canadians (27-15-0-2) and Renfrew Wolves (25-13-3-3) sitting just a point behind them in the standings and each having a game in hand.

Hawkesbury is on the road this week to face the Cornwall Colts (20-21-1-2) on Thursday (February 23) and in Brockville to play the Braves (23-16-4-1) on Friday, February 24. The Hawks return to The Bob on Friday March 4 for a rematch with the Braves.

In last weekend’s action, Hawkesbury was humbled at home 6-1 by Renfrew on Friday, February 17, before rebounding for a 4-3 road victory over the Nepean Raiders (10-32-1-3).

Mac was named Hardest Working Cougar by the team after Vankleek Hill’s game in Cardinal on Friday, February 17. Photo: VKH Cougars

Humbled by recognition for my work

It’s a great honour that I accepted the NCJHL’s Bedard Family Award for Community Person/Player of the Year during the Cougars’ game against Westport at The Bob in Hawkesbury on Sunday. It made my night very special.

I had some of my family with me to celebrate my special moment and special night, along with my Cougar family. Thank you so much for voting for me. I feel so happy to be a part of such a great organization!

I was also honored to be named Hardest Working Cougar after last Friday’s big win against South Grenville at the Cardinal Arena. It was a very nice surprise by the team and all of the players and coaching staff.

My Cougars family means the world to me. Thank you so much to everyone.