The Cougars played a great game at home on Saturday. They had the majority of the better scoring chances, and seemed to be playing with more intensity than the visiting team, but a couple of good bounces and solid goaltending allowed the Volant to win game three by shutting out the Cougars 3-0 at Vankleek Hill and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Cougars had better luck the next day at Gatineau, and were able to take a 2-1 lead after one period of play, adding one more goal in the second period and holding on to their lead to win the game and tie the series 2-2. Andy Lightle-Blais scored two goals for the Cougars and Brenden Easterbrook scored the other, while Zachary Bigras notched two assists and Julien Bercier and Justin Chaumont got one apiece.
After the heart-breaking loss on Saturday, the Cougars were disappointed, but they weren’t frustrated, according to Head Coach Franky Dopelhamer: “A loss like that is not frustrating. It’s disappointing, for sure, but it’s not frustrating. Getting out-worked and outplayed is frustrating, but when you do everything right and the puck just doesn’t go your way, you can build on that, and success will come eventually.”
The Cougars’ coach did try to shake things up the next day at Gatineau with line-up adjustments to give his team more of a physical edge: “We made some line-up changes on Sunday to try and get a grinder on every line and give us a little gritty edge on offense,” said Dopelhamer. “We put bodies in front of the net and it worked out well for us. We were desperate, so we played desperately, and we got the win.”
After his team’s performance over the weekend, Dopelhamer feels confident in his team’s ability to win the series: “We’ve been playing great hockey so far this post-season. The only game where we really dropped the ball was the first one, and even in that game we were able to make a last minute comeback to send the game into overtime. So we’re feeling pretty confident about our chances in game five.”
The Cougars’ head coach also believes that playing at Gatineau will ease the pressure on his team, as they’ve struggled more at home in front of their fans this season then they have on the road: “For whatever reason, we’re playing better on the road this year than we are at home. So I don’t hate the fact that we’re playing the last game at Gatineau. It puts all the pressure on them. Plus, we have so many fans following us on the road that our games at Gatineau have almost felt like home games, to be honest.”
The Cougars will play game five in Gatineau on Friday, and the winner of that game will move on to the second round of the playoffs. Depending on how the other series play out, the Cougars will face either the Clarence Castors, the South Grenville Rangers or the North Dundas Rockets if they win the last game against the Volant.