The Vankleek Cougars and the Gatineau-Hull Volant each won of the first two games scheduled between the two clubs in the best-of-seven opening round of the National Capital Junior Hockey League (NCJHL) playoffs.
Last Friday night’s opening game in the series between Vankleek Hill and Gatineau finished 7-4 for the Volant.
Gatineau dominated first period, getting on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal by Benoît Milloy during the first quarter of the period. Jérémy Marcotte extended the league by two more goals for the host team at the period mid-point, with assists from Samuel Lamarche and Mathis Villeneuve on his first goal and from Lois Flansberry on his second.
Maxime Laliberté put Vankleek Hill on the board eight minutes from the end of the period, with a goal assist from Cougars assistant captain Joshua Desjardins. Desjardins then added a second goal to Vankleek Hill’s total during the last three minutes of the period. Fellow assistant captain John Mahoney assisted on the goal.
Villeneuve added one more point to the Volant’s first-period total in the last thirty seconds of the period, with help from Lamarche and Louis-Philippe Legault.
Second period saw Gatineau extend its league by another point. The Volant got their fifth goal of the night in first five minutes into the play from the stick of Clément Gravelle, with help from Cédric Bertrand and Charles Antoine Boucher.
Cougars Captain Mikael Bissonnette got the scoring going again for Vankleek Hill with the team’s third goal near the mid=mark of third period. Assisting on the goal were Andy Lightle-Blais and Alexandre Chenier.
Thirty seconds after Bissonnette’s goal, Gatineau’s Villeneuve put the scoring gap between the two teams back at three points with the help of Lamarche and Marcotte.
Gravelle sccored the Volant’s final point at the period mid-mark, with assists from Boucher and Bertrand. Vankleek Hill’s Lightle-Blais scored the Cougars’ last goal of the night in the final two minutes of the game, with the help of Desjardins.
Splitting the goal-tending duty for Vankleek Hill last Friday night were Frederick Durocher-Bourdon and Jérémie Tessier.
Sunday evening at their temporary home base in Hawkesbury’s Robert Hartley Sports Complex, the Cougars ensured that the series between them and the Volant would last for at least five games. Vankleek Hill beat Gatineau 6-3 in a game that saw power-play goal after power-play goal fly into the nets at each end of the rink.
Assistant captains John Mahoney, Joshua Desjardins, and Eric Skyba teamed up on a power-play opening to put Vankleek Hill on the scoreboard first during the first half of first period. Mahoney punched in the puck, with Desjardins and Skyba assisting.
Cougars Captain Mikael Bissonnette added another power-play goal to Vankleek Hill’s benefit at the period mid-mark with help from Skyba and Andy Lightle.
Nine minutes from the end of the period, coaches for both teams had pulled their goalies to add an extra man on the ice for scoring. The “even strength” situation finished in the Cougars’ favour with the team’s third goal of the game courtesy of Thomas Kelly, assisted by Brenden Easterbrook and Jonathan Campbell.
With goalies back in the nets, the period finished up at 3-1 on the scoreboard courtesy of a power-play goal for Gatineau during the last three minutes by Lois Flansberry, with assists from Étienne Champagne and Benoît Milloy.
Second period saw the two teams trade goals, with the Cougars getting theirs first on a power-play opportunity for Bissonnette early in the play. Assisting him were Desjardins and Skyba.
Close to the period mid-mark both teams had six men on the ice and empty nets. The situation proved advantageous for the Volant as Clément Gravelle scored Gatineau’s second goal of the night, with help from Mathis Villeneuve.
Third period was all power-play scoring with Mahoney extending the Cougars lead again four minutes into the play, with help from Desjardins and Bissonnette. Desjardins fired in the final goal of the night for Vankleek Hill at the mid-mark, with assists from Lightle-Blais and Skyba. Flanberry got the Volant their third and last point on a power-play four minutes from the end of the period. Wylliam Roy assisted.
Durocher-Bourdon guarded the Vankleek Hill net throughout Sunday night’s game.
The two teams are now confirmed for three more games in their series with the Volant hosting Game Three on March 3. The Cougars play host Sunday night in Hawkesbury. The fifth game of the series is March 8 in Gatineau.