It was a heartbreaking way to end their season, but the Hawkesbury Hawks’ spirits aren’t dampened after falling to the Renfrew Wolves in the quarterfinals of the Central Canada Junior Hockey League (CCHL) playoffs.

Hawkesbury lost 3-2 in overtime to Renfrew on Friday, March 31, at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex, after staging a furious comeback in the game’s final few minutes. Trailing 2-0, Hawkesbury’s Garrison Schultz scored at 13:22 to bring the Hawks to within one, before Alex Fournier scored with just 49 second left in the third to send a capacity home crowd of almost 1,000 spectators into a frenzy. In a furious back-and-forth overtime session, Renfrew’s Noah Vom Scheidt finally clinched the 3-2 win for the Wolves at 18:17 of the first overtime period.

“(The players) were disappointed, some I would say devastated – especially the 20-year-olds, who realized it was their last game,” said Hawks Head Coach and General Manager Marc Bernique.

The Hawks fought through injuries against Renfrew, as well as a three-game suspension to star forward Jakson Kirk, forcing the team to fill in with affiliate players. Hawkesbury used five affiliate players in the Game 5 loss to the Wolves.

Hawks goaltender Dimitri Pelekos was outstanding against Renfrew and was voted as the team’s MVP for the playoffs. Photo: Sylvain Lauwers

“Our affiliate players filled in roles and played very well,” said Bernique, who also had high praise for goaltender Dimitri Pelekos. “Pelekos was outstanding.”

The 2022-2023 CCHL season was a challenging one for the Hawks in many ways. Longtime coach and general manager Rick Dorval left for an assistant coaching position with the Sudbury Wolves in August, leaving little time to prepare for the start of the season. Bernique came on as General Manager, while former Hawk Charles Lavigne was named head coach. After a poor start, Bernique replaced Lavigne behind the bench in late November.

Hawkesbury was the hottest team in the CCHL after the Christmas break, moving up in the standings. A surge in the final week of the season saw them move from seventh place to fifth and earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

“I’m proud of the group,” Bernique said, crediting the players for working hard and sticking together as a team. “Despite all the adversity, despite all the changes, they were still able to perform and showed up every day.”

“As a team, (the players) were really tight together.”

The Hawks held their year-end awards banquet on Sunday, along with exit interviews with all of the players.

“It was pretty positive,” Bernique said of comments he received from the players.

Hawkesbury’s head coach believes the Hawks could have challenged for the league championship had they been able to get past Renfrew.

“We all believed that we could go far, but we just ran out of gas,” Bernique commented.

Hawks ownership has welcomed back Bernique as Coach and GM for next season, and the Hawks GM said he is very excited about the future of the team, which saw a huge increase in fan support this year.

“We averaged over 400 people a game – almost 1,000 at the last game,” Bernique enthused.

The Hawkesbury Hawks will celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary during the 2023-2024 CCHL season and will be planning a number of activities to celebrate the milestone.

Gatineau-Hull Volant lead Clarence Castors 2-0 in NCJHL finals

The Gatineau-Hull Volant continue to surprise in the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) playoffs, jumping out to a two to none game lead in league final series against the Clarence Castors.

Gatineau-Hull beat the Castors 4-2 on Sunday, April 2, at the Clarence Creek Recreational Centre, two days after winning the first game of the series 5-3 at home in Gatineau. The Volant eliminated the Vankleek Hill Cougars three games to two in the quarterfinals, before stunning the first place South Grenville Rangers in the semifinals.

Game 3 of the NCJHL finals will go on Wednesday, April 5, at the Clarence Creed Recreation Centre. Game time is 8 p.m. Game 4 is scheduled in Gatineau at 7:30 p.m., while Game 5 will be played in Clarence Creek if necessary on Saturday, April 8, beginning at 8 p.m.

Vikings top Richmond 6-2 in to move on to EOJHL finals

The Casselman Jr B Vikings celebrate after winning Game 7 of the EOJHL semi-finals against Richmond Royals. Photo courtesy of E. McCarthy

The Casselman Junior B Vikings won game 7 of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League (EOJHL) Martin Division semifinals 6-2 over the Richmond Royals on Wednesday, March 29, to move on to face the Perth Blue Wings in the finals.

The Vikings will be looking to defend their 2021-22 EOJHL championship title and the Barkley Cup in the finals against Perth. Game 1 of the series will go on Monday, April 3, in Perth.

Brayden Besner had two goals for the Vikings in their 6-2 Game 7 win on the road at the Richmond Memorial Centre. Deklyn Campbell, Nico Pozzebon, Tyler Stewart and Jacob Knickle added singles for Casselman, while goaltender Maël Gendron stopped 37 of 29 Blue Wings shots to earn the win.

Game 1 of the finals was scheduled to be played in Perth on Monday, April 3. Game 2 is scheduled in Casselman on Thursday, April 6. Game 3 will be in Perth on Friday, April 7, with Game 4 back in Casselman on Sunday, April 9.

Flock hold year-end awards ceremony

The Hawkesbury Hawks honoured the team’s top players at a season-ending banquet on Sunday, April 2. Submitted Photo

The Flock held their year-end dinner and awards ceremony a little earlier than expected, honoring the top players for the Hawkesbury Hawks during the 2022-2023 CCHL season.

Congrats to all the winners:

Most Goals – Landon Brownlee

Most Points – Jakson Kirk

Most Improved – Aiden Stubbings

Most Sportsmanlike – Alex Fournier

Rookie of the Year – Remi Gelinas

Best Defenseman – Felix Sauve

Team MVP – Jakson Kirk

Playoff MVP – Dimitri Pelekos

Teammate of the Year – Felix Sauve

Volunteer – Michel Lafferty

Photo Gallery – Hawkesbury Hawks vs. Renfrew Wolves, Friday, March 31