The Vankleek Hill Cougars are excited for the new season.
The Vankleek Hill Cougars started tryouts on August 29 to fill out the team’s lineup for this hockey season. After two tryouts in Hawkesbury and one in Vankleek Hill, they held a few exhibition games for practice and to showcase their new players. The renovations on the Vankleek Hill Arena concluded on September 7, just in time for them to lay new ice and host the games.
The first exhibition game was against the Gatineau Hill-Volants at the Slush Puppie Centre on September 10, where the Cougars scored one goal in each period to beat out the Volants 3-1.
The second game was also against the Volants at the Vankleek Hill Arena on September 16. This time the Volants built up an early lead, scoring four goals in the first period against the Cougars’ two goals. The Cougars were able to shut down the Volants’ streak and prevent them from scoring any more goals as the Cougars began a slow march back to victory. The final score was a 5-4 win for the Cougars.
The third was against les Aigles de Saint-Isidore Eagles, which ended as a loss for Vankleek Hill. Les Aigles built up an early lead with one goal in the first and second period, which the Cougars were unable to make up. They ended the game for the final score of 2-5.
According to Franky Dopelhamer, head coach for the Cougars, the exhibition games went well, and the newly filled team has a lot of potential.
“I get the feeling that we’re gonna be competing with everybody, because we have lots of young players,” he said. “They’re gonna have a lot of drive to skate hard, board check hard, and this will be one of our strengths. We’re gonna have a lot of depth, and that’s gonna help out with the lineup. We won’t be relying on just a couple players, we can rely on all four lines and everybody can contribute.”
At the end of the year, Dopelhamer hopes to win the championship. That doesn’t change whether you’re young or older, he said.
“Once we start the season, there will be room to improve, we are going to look at that window and try to have a better team and to improve,” he said. “Just starting the season though, we’re really confident with what we have and we’re gonna let those kids learn. They need room to learn and figure things out.”
Their next game is against the Metcalf Jets at the Vankleek Hill Arena September 23.