All posts by Sean Bray

Hawks, Glens postpone 2020 hockey training camps

With ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the province loosening healthy restrictions, two local junior hockey teams, the Hawkesbury Hawks and the Alexandria Glens, have announced the postponement of planned summer camps.

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The junior ‘A’ Hawks, which play in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) had planned for a camp in June, postponing that to July. Once again, though, the club has been forced into another delay, now scheduling its 2020 training camp for August 21 to 23, in Hawkesbury.

The camp, to be held at the Robert Hartley Complex, is open to hockey players with 2000-04 birth years, with the Hawks “looking to fill 5-6 forward positions, 3-4 defence positions, and 1 goalie position.”

Further information and a registration form can be found on the team’s website here.

As for the Glens, the team had slated its 2020 training camp for August, at the Glengarry Sports Palace in Alexandria. However, last week the club announced a deferral: “Unfortunately, we must announce the postponement of our Main Camp to Friday, September 18th, in Alexandria.”

Prospective players are invited to register at the portal here.

For more background on the off-season for Alexandria’s junior ‘B’ hockey team, please see this earlier post.

Last Sunday, new head coach Carl Robillard engaged a number of prospects in on-ice drills at a rink in Ottawa, part of a series of summer training sessions being run in accordance with current COVID-19 protocols.

Glens on the ice in Ottawa. (submitted photo)
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Flashback: images from Alexandria high school sports

Recently, Bernie McCormick posted a couple of sports photos on a Facebook group highlighting sports from years gone by in Alexandria.

The Alexandria Ontario in Pictures group post included these images from GDHS football and basketball.

Glengarry football flashback
Bernie McCormick shares this image of Alexandria high school quarterback Bruce Poleet, left, and coach Stanley Fraser. The photograph is from the mid 1960s.
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Blast from the past: a junior boys basketball team from GDHS, shared by Bernie McCormick.
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Holy Trinity athletes celebrated with video awards ceremony

Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School presented its annual athletic awards via online videos this year, owing to the shutdown of traditional school operations for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Falcons coach Mindy Gibbs tells me that she created videos to recognize the individual award recipients and highlight the successful teams, notably senior girls and boys basketball squads.

Here are the major awards.

And here are the other sports honours.

Holy Trinity also celebrated retiring football coach and teacher Jeff McAllister, who capped off a 27-year career with his stretch as a member of the Falcons family.

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Raisin River Canoe Race goes virtual for 2020

If you missing the excitement of the Raisin River Canoe Race this year, following its cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have created a virtual experience and invite you to participate in the county tradition.

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Raisin Region Conservation Authority graphic

The challenge is to be creative and take a photo of yourself in a canoe or kayak somewhere within the Raisin River watershed. The image file can then be submitted to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority via e-mail to canoerace@rrca.on.ca

A special medal, which features a built-in bottle opener, is available to the first 300 entrants.

Your medal can be picked up in person Monday to Friday at Gray’s Creek Marina (marina store), where you will need to show your canoe race photo to the attendant using your own device. Alternately, for $4, the RRCA will mail it you.

The conservation authority reminds you to exercise safety in the creativity of your photo. “We do not condone or encourage dangerous or careless behaviour.”

As well, submitted images imply permission for “the Raisin Region Conservation Authority to repost or reuse the canoe race photo for promotional purposes.”

More information is available on the RRCA Virtual Canoe Race webpage here.

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Curler MacPherson caps off university career with school MVP award

North Glengarry’s Marshall MacPherson completed his university curling career in early March, capping off his time at the University of Western Ontario by being recognized with the MVP award for curling at the school’s athletics banquet, which this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held remotely.

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Marshall MacPherson skipped his University of Western Ontario curling team for the 2019-20 season. (submitted photo)

He tells me that the 2019-20 season was a year of transition for the Western curling program. The previous campaign saw the club claim bronze at the OUA Championships, going on to “have a strong showing at the nationals in Fredericton.” Following that year, the skip and third graduated, opening the door for MacPherson’s leadership.

The longtime curler out of the Alexandria Curling Club and graduate of Glengarry District High School stepped in the skip role, whilst throwing third stones.

“Thankfully, the entire curling season was able to be played before the COVID shutdown,” he notes. “We had a few tune-up events in St. Catharine’s and Waterloo, where we had very strong showings. We also had the incredible opportunity to play an exhibition game on arena ice at the Continental Cup (hosted in London this year) side-by-side with the stars of the sport and in front of a crowd of over 1,000.”

The provincial championships (OUA) were held in Guelph, where the Mustangs started 1-4.

“We won our last two games to end the round-robin at 3-4, but we just missed out on the playoffs,” MacPherson recalls.

He admits to me that he and his teammates were disappointed to miss the OUA playoffs and the opportunity to “make a run to qualify at nationals.” On the season as a whole, though, MacPherson says, “We were pretty happy with the successes we were able to create as a first-year team. I’m quite happy with where we left things.”

He graduated recently and believes “the rest of the team is in a really good spot moving forward (providing the season isn’t also cancelled for the upcoming year).”

At the end of the year he was named Male Curling MVP by the Western Mustangs program.

On the academic front, he completed his dental school studies in June.

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Marshall MacPherson, right, with dad Scott. (submitted photo)

On his university curling career he reflects, “Stepping up to skip and being amongst other provincial, national, and world champions was really exciting, and I’m really glad I got to finish off my varsity career as skip.”

MacPherson adds, “I’m really thankful for my teammates, coach, and the entire faculty at the dental school who were all very understanding with my commitment to both finishing up a very busy program all the while leading the curling team. Despite the end of my university days coming to a very abrupt halt, I’m very satisfied with what I’ve been able to accomplish in my years at Western.”

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OHL-drafted goaltender Parsons works out virtually in Hockey Canada program

Embrun resident, an OHL draft pick of the Kitchener Rangers, Jackson Parsons recently worked out virtually with Hockey Canada and has been invited to the organization’s national U17 development camp, set to begin July 19.

In May, he signed an OHL standard player agreement with the Rangers. Parsons was picked in the OHL Priority Selection draft 53rd overall.

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Jackson Parsons as a goaltender with the U18 Cornwall Colts (photo courtesy of Kitchener Rangers)

The 15-year-old’s junior hockey career began last season, which was split between the U18 Cornwall Colts and the junior ‘B’ Char- Lan Rebels.

The Rangers recently highlighted Parson’s summer on their website, quoting the net minder’s thoughts on his Hockey Canada experience thus far: “All of the important information was made available to us, and it was really valuable. Parsons said. I just looked at the online format as a change. It didn’t necessarily lessen the experience at all.”

Kitchener head coach and general manager Mike McKenzie added, “Every little bit helps, especially with kids at this age, and they learn different things from a lot of people in the hockey world.”

Team staff will be connecting online with all Rangers players, including Parsons, with plans for weekly calls from the coach and “guest speakers.”

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Junior A hockey league conducts virtual AGM as part of plans to return to play

The Central Canada Hockey League (junior ‘A’) held its Annual General Meeting on June 29, the first time it had been done via video conferencing, for the 12 clubs of the Eastern Ontario loop.

“While uncertainty remains, the return to play protocols developed by Hockey Eastern Ontario through our four local health units and the Canadian Junior Hockey League have allowed us to prepare for the upcoming weeks and months.

The CCHL will conduct its scheduled meeting on July 15, and at that time will confirm the start date and schedule length based on the most current information of the day.

We look forward to hitting the ice for training camp and our annual showcase when it is safe for players, officials and spectators to do so.

CCHL announcement following the 2020 Annual General Meeting

The 2019-20 came to an abrupt end in March, with the playoffs set to begin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandated Hockey Canada shutdown.

The Hawkesbury Hawks (36-24-2-0) were scheduled to play the Smiths Falls Bear (33.24-3-2) in their opening-round playoff series, while the Cornwall Colts (21-35-1-5) didn’t qualify for post-season action.

The Hawks are hoping to open training camp later this month, in Ottawa. The club is also slated to host the 2021 Fred Page Cup (Eastern Canadian Championship), in May.

As for the Colts, information isn’t currently available.

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Seguin works on his pole vaulting form, hoping for season to resume

To stay in top form and in homes of the competitive track and field season resuming from its break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Martintown’s Brennan Seguin has been working out, along with his University of Guelph teammates, informally, under the guidance of the Gryphons coach.

Back in early March, the Gryphons track and field team, at the U-Sports championships held in Alberta, captured the national men’s and women’s titles. It was the school’s third straight year topping Canadian universities.

2020 Gryphons track and field team celebrates its national championship. (University of Guelph photo)

In the men’s pole vault, Seguin placed fourth overall, clearing 4.73 metres. The winner of the event was Daniel Gleason, of the York Lions, who cleared 5.13 metres.

Seguin is a graduate of Char-Lan DHS and was trained during his high school years by Rory Blackadder. This was the vaulter’s second year at Guelph. In 2019 at nationals, held in Montreal, he earned bronze with a 4.96 m jump.

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New Glens head coach gets his first on-ice session with players

On Sunday in Ottawa, first-year Alexandria Glens head coach Carl Robillard got his first opportunity to work with a number of his players and prospects, as the junior ‘B’ hockey club held its first summer workout session of 2020.

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While there has been plenty of off-ice hockey business since the 2019-20 season ended in late February, the COVID-19 pandemic shelved plans for any official team functions, until last week, when Ontario government and Hockey Canada restrictions were loosened.

Robillard was named to the post of head coach for the Glens in late May. Since then, general manager Derick Viau has added to the staff, pegging David Morash and Jason Bélanger as assistant coaches of the team for the 2020-21 season.

On the player side, Viau has been busy signing individuals, including goaltender Tanner Gillies, who hails from Orleans. The 2003-born player, backstopped the Navan Grads U18 ‘AAA’ team last season, recording a 2.78 goals-against average.

The general manager has also announced the signing of two defencemen, Tanner Legue (also with the U18 Grads last winter) and Braden Legue (who’s returning to the Glens for a second campaign). The Legue boys, aged 17 and 19 respectively, are brothers, hailing from Green Valley.

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Hockey training in Ottawa for the Alexandria Glens, June 28. (Glens photo)

Another blueliner inked this spring by Viau is Patryk Kostrzewa. The 18-year-old D-man skated for the U18 Ottawa Jr. Senators U18 ‘AAA’ squad last season.

On the trade front, Reese Donnelly was dealt to the Winchester Hawks to complete a multi-player transaction from November 30, 2019. The 18-year-old forward from Orleans split the 2019-20 junior ‘B’ hockey season between the Char-Lan Rebels and their northern cousins, recording 13 points in 34 games.

Meanwhile, the Glens welcomed, from the Hawks, a new forward, as 2001-born Kyle Green was picked up. The Clarence native had 14 points in 44 games with the Winchester club last winter.

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Members of the junior ‘B’ Alexandria Glens work out on the ice in Ottawa, on June 28. (Glens photo)

Coach Robillard tells me that he was pleased with Sunday’s first skate, adding that there was a bit of rust on the boys due to the long layoff from skating. He plans to make this a weekly event, leading up to the late-August training camp.

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Sounds of silence: plug pulled on all GSL outdoor soccer for 2020

The latest announcement from the Glengarry Soccer League officially ended any prospect of a summer season of the beautiful game in the county, as the GSL has pulled the plug on play in all adult divisions.

The GSL had previously cancelled the minor (youth) season for summer 2020, but there was hope of some sort of adult season, perhaps later in the summer or early fall.

That prospect was ended with this June 22 announcement: “Unfortunately, there will be no GSL soccer this outdoor season. The GSL has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL divisions. This includes Senior, Tier 2, and Hearts (in addition to the previously cancelled minor division).”

The addition of the Hearts to the cancellation list refers to the competitive Glengarry Hearts minor teams that the county fields each year to compete in the East Region Soccer League. The ERSL has not cancelled its season, which, in a normal year, would have begun in mid-May and run through August, occasionally into September.

A GSL representative told me that the county league was waiting on word from the ERSL and/or the EODSA (the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association, which is the region’s governing body for the sport), but none came, so the GSL acted, officially silencing soccer balls in Glengarry.

Meanwhile, Ontario Soccer and the EODSA has announced that clubs can begin phase 1 of the Return to Play plan.

Ontario Soccer notice
Ontario Soccer graphic

According to Ontario Soccer plan, phase 1 allows for a return to modified training. Restrictions include no contact and no league, exhibition, festival, or tournament matches.

Ontario Soccer notes that the organization “will determine timelines for each Phase in alignment with the Province of Ontario provincial health authorities involving government orders, restrictions, and guidelines.”

The ERSL has been working on a contingency plan to salvage a 2020 season, which now will not include any Glengarry Hearts teams. According to the current outline, “If we are not in Phase 3 of Ontario Soccer’s Return to Play Guidelines on or before July 31, 2020, the ERSL will cancel the 2020 outdoor season.”

The hope is that a 9-week season could start August 2, providing 10 to 12 games per team, and running through early October. This is what the ERSL bills as “our most extensive delay,” one of a number of scenarios within their contingency plan. Under this situation, divisions would be assigned two game days per week, Cup and Shield events would be cancelled, and there would be no two-week break in the schedule.

The Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club also cancelled its 2020 outdoor season for house teams and the Coyotes (tournament play).

The Seaway Valley Blazers ERSL teams, which play out of Cornwall, are still registered to play in the region’s competitive league, should its season proceed at some point. Currently, the club is set to field boys teams at the U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15 (two squads), U16, U17, and U18 levels. On the girls side, expected teams are U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U16, and U18 (two squads).

Training for Match Officials

Registration for online training of match officials continues through to July 3. Clinics are expected to be run in August, assuming sufficient numbers sign up.

The GSL’s minor referee-in-chief, Matthew Houlzet, notes, “All learning is completed online and will certify you to referee and line games for U12 and older.”

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