The Hawkesbury Hawks will have home-ice advantage over the Renfrew Wolves in the first round of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) playoffs, thanks to an amazing final week in which the Hawks won three straight to move from seventh to fourth in the standings.

The Junior A Hawks finished fourth in the final CCHL standings – tying Renfrew for the spot on the final day with a 9-2 win over the Nepean Raiders. Although the two teams finished with identical records of 30-18-4-3, Hawkesbury earned home ice advantage over the Wolves through the league’s first tiebreaker of most regulation and overtime wins.

Hawkesbury will host Renfrew for the first game of the series this Friday evening (March 24) at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex. Game time is 7:30 p.m. The second game will be played in Renfrew on Sunday, March 26, beginning at 2 p.m.

Sitting in seventh place with just three games left in the season, Hawkesbury needed to be perfect and get some help in the final week if the team was to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks responded with a 7-3 road win over the Pembroke Lumber Kings on Wednesday, March 15, then a 4-2 win over the Rockland Nationals at The Bob on Friday (March 17), before the season ending win over Nepean. Meanwhile the other teams they were chasing stumbled, most notably Renfrew, which lost 5-0 to the Cornwall Colts on Thursday (March 16), then 7-2 to the visiting 12-39-1-3 Nepean Raiders on Friday (March 17).

“We got some help,” observed Hawks Head Coach Marc Bernique, of the team’s big rise in the standings over the final week of the season. “The guys are rallying together.”

Bernique expects a very competitive series with the Wolves, noting Hawkesbury only one one game this season between the two teams.

“For some reason, Renfrew has been our kryptonite,” the Hawks head coach said. “But in the playoffs all those stats are thrown out the window – it’s a brand new season.”

The Hawks expect a huge crowd at The Bob on Friday night, as attendance for the 2022-2023 regular season was a big boost during home games. Friday’s regular season finale at the rink against Rockland drew an estimated 700 fans.

“We’ve had great crowds all season,” Bernique enthused. “The fans have really supported us.”

The other CCHL quarter final series will see the first place Ottawa Junior Senators face the Cornwall Colts, the Navan Grads with home-ice advantage over the Brockville Braves, and the Smiths Falls Bears against the Carleton Place Canadians. All of the series are best-of-seven games.

Special night for Hawks’ Felix Sauvé

The Hawks held a special night for defenseman Felix Sauvé, who played his 150th game for Hawkesbury, when they faced the Rockland Nationals last Friday (March 17).

At the game, which had the largest crowd of the season at The Bob, The Flock also celebrated local families who billeted players for the team this season.

“A lot of people were there to see the billet families, so that was pretty nice,” Bernique said.

Six 20-year-old players were playing their final home game for the Hawks against the Nationals, and both teams saluted the graduating players. The Nationals also stood on their bench and clapped to honor Sauvé during his presentation.

“That was pretty special,” Bernique noted.

Castors take 3-2 lead in NCJHL semifinals

The Clarence Castors earned a 4-3 home win over the North Dundas Rockets on Sunday (March 19) to take a 3-2 lead in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) semifinal series between the two teams. Game 6 is Saturday, March 25 in Chesterville. If necessary, Game 7 will be played at the Clarence Creek Arena on Sunday, March 26, beginning at 6:20 p.m.

In the NCJHL’s other semifinal series, the regular season champion South Grenville Rangers bounced back with a 4-1 road win on Sunday, to tie their series with the Gatineau-Hull Volant at two games apiece.