Nats battle Wolves in round one of CCHL playoffs

Anil Jhalli
Nats battle Wolves in round one of CCHL playoffs
The Rockland Nationals qualified for the playoffs with two wins to end the season. The first round of the playoffs will take place against the Renfrew Wolves. (Photo : Patrick Bergeron)

Playoff hockey is back in Clarence-Rockland after four long years, and the team and its fans are equally excited.

The Rockland Nationals will take on the Renfrew Wolves in the first round of the Central Canadian Hockey League (CCHL) postseason, with game one set for Friday, March 22, at the Clarence-Rockland Arena.

“The playoffs, it’s a new season and a new mentality,” said Nats head coach Justin Pereira. “It’s eyes forward, play for each other and focus on what’s ahead.”

The Nats ended the regular season on a high note, winning two of their final three games to close out the season.

And they are looking to carry that momentum into the playoffs in their first round clash with the Wolves.

“We know this community has missed playoff hockey, and we are happy to share this moment with them,” said Nats defenseman Kai Stothers. “As a team, we are really hungry, we have been working hard all season to get here. We know what we are capable of doing, and we have the team to do it.”

Stothers and some of the other veterans were quick to praise the work of the coaching staff, who brought a complete change of culture that contributed to the team’s regular season success.

Players have bought in to that culture, and it shows on and off the ice, said team captain Xavier Laurent.

“It’s just night and day compared to last season,” he said, fresh off being named the CCHL’s top defenseman of the season. “Guys are excited to come to the rink and start practice and are ready to compete.”

Pereira, in his first year as the team’s head coach, said the players deserve all the praise for how they have worked this year.

“It’s great to hear the impact we have on these kids, but they are the ones working hard and giving their all,” he said. “We have a great team, great leaders and it shows on and off the ice with how these guys have become close.”

Nats forward Guillaume Labre, born and raised in Clarence-Rockland, said the goal from the start of the season was simple – get to the Centennial Cup and win it all.

“We are more physical than we were, and we are way hungrier than we have been,” he said. “There’s guys on this team who are playing their last year of junior hockey, and they want to go out with a bang and go out a champion.”

Partager cet article