Sunday, February 26 – Vankleek Hill 6 Gatineau-Hull 3 (Series tied 1-1)

Team Captain Mikael Bissonnette and defenseman John Mahoney each had a pair of goals, as the Vankleek Hill Cougars evened their quarterfinal National Capital Junior Hockey League playoff series with a 6-3 home win over the Gatineau-Hull Volant on Sunday evening (February 26).

The Cougars’ win at their temporary home at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury was a big bounce back for the Vankleek Hill squad, after a 7-4 loss at Gatineau’s Slush Puppy Centre in the first game of the series on Friday, February 24.

Mahoney got the Cougars on the board early in the first period with a power play goal and Bissonnette gave Vankleek Hill a 2-0 lead with another man-advantage marker less than seven minutes into the game. The Cougars led 3-1 after the first period and 4-2 after two frames.

Joshua Desjardins and Thomas Kelly added single markers for Vankleek Hill, while netminder Frederick Duroucher-Bourdon bounced back from a tough outing on Friday night to earn the win.

The Cougars bench celebrates a goal against the Volant. Photo: Reid Masson

“Compared to Friday, we were a different team,” said Cougars Head Coach Franky Dopelhamer, after Sunday’s big win. “(On Friday) we were really, really nervous – a lot of the players haven’t been through the playoffs.”

The Cougars fell behind 3-0 to the Volant just over 10 minutes into the opening contest of the series on Friday night in Gatineau and were never able to recover, eventually falling 7-4. Penalties, including a game misconduct and three 10-minute majors for unsportsmanlike conduct, were more than the Cougars could overcome.

“We weren’t disciplined on Friday,” Dopelhamer said. “(On Sunday) the plan was to be disciplined and stay out of the box, get ahead and win the game.”

Vankleek Hill and Gatineau-Hull will meet twice again next weekend. On Friday, March 3, the Cougars travel to Centre Slush Puppie for Game 3, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Vankleek Hill will be back home at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury for Game 4 against the Volant on Sunday, March 5. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Dopelhamer expects every game to be hard-fought in the series between the two evenly-matched teams.

“It won’t be easy,” the Cougars head coach observed. “But we’re going to come out ahead. It’s a tougher series in my opinion than the others and it will get whatever team passes the test ready for the next round.”

St-Isidore trails North Dundas 2-0

The St-Isidore Eagles will have an uphill battle in their quarterfinal series against the North Dundas Rockets, after losing the first two games last weekend.

The Rockets scored three unanswered goals in the third period to stun the home crowd at the St-Isidore Arena with a 5-2 win over the Eagles on Sunday, February 26. Alexi Gaudreau and Mathieu Talbot scored for St-Isidore, while Mathieu Sauvé took the loss in net.

Sunday’s loss was a tough setback for the Eagles, who almost pulled off the upset in the first game of the series, falling 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night (February 25) in Chesterville. Talbot and Justin Cloutier scored for St-Isidore in the loss.

The series resumes on Saturday, March 4, when North Dundas will host the Eagles at the Chesterville and District Arena for Game 3, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Game 4 will go at the St-Isidore Arena on Sunday, March 5, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Morrisburg Lions stun Clarence Castors 6-5 in Game 2

The seventh place Morrisburg Lions pulled a big 6-5 overtime upset over the Clarence Castors in Game 2 of the NCJHL quarterfinal series between the two teams on Sunday, February 26, in Morrisburg.

The win to tie the series at one game each was an amazing comeback for the Lions, who lost the opening game of the matchup 7-0 on Saturday night (February 25) in Clarence Creek.

Game 3 goes Saturday, March 4, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Clarence Creek Recreation Centre. Morrisburg will host Game 4 on Sunday, March 5, beginning at 2:15 p.m.

South Grenville, Almonte series tied 1-1

The eighth place Almonte Inferno also pulled an upset last week, beating the South Grenville Rangers 3-2 on Sunday (February 26) to tie up their series at one game apiece.

The win followed a close opening contest at the Cardinal Arena on Saturday night (February 25) that saw South Grenville squeak out a 3-2 overtime win over the Inferno. The two teams will face off again in Cardinal next Saturday, March 4.

Photo Gallery – Cougars vs. Volant – Sunday, February 26