Thanks to sponsors Team Bougie and Total Telecom, Vankleek Hill Cougars fans will be able to watch their team play for free in the Cougars’ National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) regular season opener against the Morrisburg Lions this Sunday (Oct. 9). ). Puck drop is at 7.30pm at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex in Hawkesbury, where the beer garden and restaurant will be open for the game. The Cougars are playing out of an arena in Hawkesbury for the 2022-2023 National Capital Junior Hockey League season while undergoing extensive renovations at the Vankleek Hill Community Center.
Cougars fans have reason to be excited about the team’s home opener, as the local Junior C team won its second straight game to start the season, defeating the Lions 5-4 in Morrisburg on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 2). Mikael Bissonnette scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period, as the Cougars used a four-goal second period en route to a comeback victory. Cedrik Bisson, Rowan McPherson and Landen Sweet scored individual goals for Vankleek Hill, while Fred Durocher-Bourdon won in net with 41 saves on the night.
The Cougars fired 53 shots at the Lions net, with Morrisburg goaltender Andrew Brooks standing on his head to stop 48. Cougars defenseman Brenden Easterbrook was the player of the game on Sunday, keeping the back end clean all game and excelling at blocking shots.
“It was a really interesting game for our second game of the season,” Cougars head coach Franky Dopelhamer said. “There were a lot of shots, some shutouts and a lot of goals.”
Morrisburg took an early lead, scoring two runs to go up 2-0 in the second frame. But the Cougars came alive as the second period turned into a Vankleek Hill faceoff as they found the back of the net four times while Morrisburg scored twice to send the two teams into the final frame tied 4-4 and set the scene . for Bissonnette’s third period of heroism.
The Cougars coaching staff is pleased with what they have seen in the team’s first two games. Trailing several times in their game against the Lions on Sunday, the Vankleek Hill team refused to quit.
“We showed a lot of character as Morrisburg led in three different periods of the game,” Dopelhamer said. “I like the team chemistry we’re building.”
The Cougars will be working on little rest for the team’s home opener next Sunday as they travel to Chesterville the night before on Saturday, Oct. 8 to take on the North Dundas Rockets.
With two wins to start the season, Vankleek Hill is tied for second in the NCJHL standings – two points behind the leaders Gatineau-Hull Volant. The Cougars, however, have two games in hand as Gatineau-Hull has a 3-1 record.
Vankleek Hill acquires local product Joshua Desjardins from the Gatineau Flames
The Cougars made another big local acquisition as the team acquired the playing rights of Chute-à-Blondeau native Joshua Desjardins from the Gatineau Flames Junior AAA team.
The speedy Desjardins can put the puck in the net, and the 5’6”, 141-pound forward will add an extra shot up front for the Cougars.
“Joshua brings a lot of speed and experience to our team,” said head coach Franky Dopelhamer. “We will count on his help offensively as he had 29 points in 37 games with the Flames last year.”
Desjardins also had 149 penalty minutes in his 37 games with Gatineau in 2021-22, proving he’s not afraid to mix it up. In four games with the Flames this season, Joshua has a goal and an assist and 4 penalty minutes.
In addition to the Flames, Desjardins also played with the Alexandria Glens and the Casselman Vikings. In the 2018-2019 season, he scored 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points with the Hawkesbury Hawks U18 AAA team. Joshua played his minor hockey in the Eastern Ontario Cobras system – scoring 25 goals and 24 assists for the Cobras U16 AA team in 2017-18 – and is excited to be returning to the region.
“Josh is very happy to be playing hockey close to home,” Dopelhamer said.
Welcome home Joshua!
Alexandria Glens lost their first two games
The Alexandria Glens have had a rough start to the 2022-23 Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season, but it’s still early in the campaign.
The first-place Embrun Panthers defeated the Glens 11-0 on Saturday, October 1 at the Maxville Sports Complex. Embrun beat the Glens 60-24.
Alexandria opened the season at Maxville on Friday night (Sept. 30) with a 4-1 loss to the Char-Lan Rebels. Defenseman Cosimo Repaci scored the lone goal for the Glens midway through the second period to pull Alexandria within one goal. Jordan Stairs was outstanding in the Alexandria net, stopping 40 of 44 shots thrown his way.
Alexandria played at the Maxville Arena while new glass was being installed at the Glengarry Sports Palace in Alexandria.
MacKenzie Hinton, known as Vankleek Hill’s Sports Authority, writes regular sports news on her popular Facebook page. Mac is a statistician for the Vankleek Hill Cougars and Alexandria Glens Junior Hockey Clubs. His column appears weekly in The Review.