It was a tough weekend for the Vankleek Hill Cougars, as the local squad saw its three-game win streak to start the season come to an end, in a 12-4 thrashing at home by the first-place Gatineau-Hull Volant on Saturday night, followed by a 2-1 road loss to the Cumberland Castors on Sunday.

Saturday, October 7 – Gatineau-Hull Volant 12 VKH Cougars 4

Gatineau-Hull’s Julien Arruda had a hat trick and two assists, as the Volant scored 29 seconds into the game and never looked back in a convincing 12-4 win over the Cougars at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre. Jérémy Marcotte responded twice for Vankleek Hill, with Joshua Desjardins potting a goal and two assists, while Zachary Sullivan added a single goal.

Starting goaltender Tristan Paquette was pulled after the first period, giving way to Brayden Prevost, with the Volant holding a 5-1 lead. The move failed to spark the local squad, with Gatineau-Hull leading 10-3 after the second frame.

Sunday, October 8 – Cumberland Castors 2 VKH Cougars 1

The Cougars bounced back from Saturday night’s goalfest with a solid defensive effort on the road in Cumberland, before ultimately falling 2-1 to the Castors.

Bruno Laframboise had the lone marker for Vankleek Hill, briefly giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead with seven minutes left in the second period, before Cumberland scored to tie the game late in the frame. Cumberland’s Cooper Hudson scored the lone goal of the third period less than four minutes in, and the Castors held on for the 2-1 victory.

“It was a much better effort from the guys,” said Cougars Head Coach Nicolas Pharand. “We could have come out with the win.”

Brayden Prevost was outstanding in net for Vankleek Hill, standing tall against the Castors, after allowing seven goals the previous night over two periods in a relief effort against Gatineau-Hull.

With the two weekend losses, the Cougars dropped to fifth place overall in the 2023-2024 National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) standings, and currently sport a record of three wins and two losses.

Pharand said the Cougars will work on some of the defensive issues from Saturday night during this Wednesday’s regular practice.

“We’ve got a young team – a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds – so it’s a learning process,” Pharand observed of Saturday’s 12-4 loss to the Volant. “We’re not going to panic about one bad game, but we still need to work on the things that did not go well to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Upcoming games

Vankleek Hill (3-2) is at home this Saturday, October 14, to play the Westport Rideaus (2-3) at the Vankleek Hill Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will travel to Prescott on Sunday, October 15, to face the South Grenville Rangers (1-2) at the Alaine Chartrand Arena in a 6 p.m. start.

On Saturday, October 21, the Cougars are on the road in Morrisburg to face off against the Lions (5-1). On Sunday, October 22, Vankleek Hill will play a rare Sunday afternoon home game; a 4:30 p.m. start against the North Dundas Rockets (3-0).

Reid Cunning called up to Hawkesbury Hawks

A big congratulations to my nephew Reid Cunning for getting called up to play with the Junior A Hawkesbury Hawks! Reid played his first Central Canada Hockey League game for the local Junior A squad on Sunday in Hawkesbury’s 3-2 loss to the Smiths Falls Bears.

The Hawks are off to a bit of a slow start with a 2-5-1 record to start the 2023-2024 season, but I’m confident they will bounce back and contend for a playoff spot.

Gatineau-Hull's Zachari Gravel (18) scores on Vankleek Hill goaltender Tristan Paquette (29), in the Volant's 12-4 win over the Cougars on Saturday, October 7. Photo: Reid Masson

Gatineau-Hull’s Zachari Gravel (18) scores on Vankleek Hill goaltender Tristan Paquette (29), in the Volant’s 12-4 win over the Cougars on Saturday, October 7. Photo: Reid Masson