Curling clubs in Alexandria and Alexandria are working towards the launch of their respective 2020-21 seasons as soon as possible, with both currently registering members new and returning.
The Alexandria Curling Club is aiming for a November 9 season start, with a number of adjustments. There will be no gender-based leagues, at least for now, and the industrial league won’t play this year. As well, a raft of COVID-19 health and safety protocols are in place, details of which can be viewed via this link.
Maxville’s Glengarry Curling Club previously announced that it would not be open this fall, setting early January for a potential season start.
The Lancaster Curling Club had hoped to open in October, providing that sufficient members registered. That target was not met, so the club’s executive has deferred opening until January, seeking to boost its membership numbers by then. See this earlier story for more details.
Operating since 1974, the CLSC this year is offering a learn-to-skate program for teens and adults who have never picked up the activity or need to learn and refine the basics. This is in addition to the club’s full youth program from developmental instruction through to performance figure skating.
There is some junior ‘B’ hockey on tap for tonight at the Glengarry Sports Palace, where the Alexandria Glens are booked to host the Char-Lan Rebels in an exhibition, non-contact scrimmage, the fifth of their pre-season series.
As with the previous scrimmages, current COVID-19 health and safety rules place a number of restrictions on the event, including limiting the number of spectators who can attend. Tickets were sold online in advance and are not available at the door.
The game is scheduled to be broadcast online via Hockey TV (subscription required). Liam Arkinson will have the play-by-play call.
Thus far, the Rebs have had the upper hand in the series of scrimmage. Char-Lan won the first three meetings. The fourth, played in Williamstown on October 17, saw Alexandria prevail 4-3 in a shootout, with Patryk Kostrzewa scoring the game-winner.
Off the ice, both clubs remain active. Recently, the Glens and Rebels conducted a trade, the details of which can be read here in a previous post.
October 23 saw the Alexandria Glens hold an intra-squad scrimmage, with Team Yellow (Braden Legue, captain) winning in double overtime, 8-7.
The Rebels announced that forward Tyler Branchaud has signed with the team. He skated with the U18 Colts for the 2019-20 campaign, recording 24 points and 51 penalty minutes in HEO 37 games. The 17-year-old hails from Metcalfe. He’s already somewhat familiar with Char-Lan’s junior ‘B’ team as last season he played as an affiliate with the Rebs in 9 games, notching 3 points. In two contests with the CCHL Colts, Branchaud didn’t hit the scoresheet.
Worthy of note, Branchaud is a dual-sport athlete who also competed for Canada at the U18 men’s softball world cup last year.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old defenceman Dillon Spinner has committed to returning to the Rebels for another go-round this winter. He was the team’s recipient of the Ken MacDonald award for overall proficiency last season. Char-Lan is glad to have him back “to solidify a strong D-corp.”
The 2020-21 hockey season is shaping up to be anything but normal, as a limited number of local fans of the senior ‘A’ game got a chance recently to check out a competitive scrimmage between the Maxville Mustangs and the Glengarry Pipers, in Alexandria, with the latter coming out on top.
The Pipers seemed to be playing the right tune in the October 24 contest, edging their North Glengarry rival 5-4.
Helping out the Alexandria-based squad which is a new entrant this season in the league was Jason Leroux, a coach of the NGS Braves U13 hockey team. He donned the goalie pads to serve as back up tendie.
The modified (non-contact due to COVID-19 restrictions) followed the Pipers training camp, which was held at the Glengarry Sports Palace back on October 10. The team’s coach and general manager, Jamie Lavigne, tells me that he had 35 guys on the ice for the workout, with the players skating in a three-period intra-squad contest which finished in a 4-4 tie. The equalizer came with 30 seconds remaining on the clock, notched by former Alexandria Glen Reggy St. Surin.
Lavigne admits, “It was different not having any contact or fighting, but it made for some good hockey.”
He tells me that the league is still is planning for a January 2021 season start date. The Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League recently added its eighth team, the Pontiac Comets, which will play out of Fort-Coulonge, Quebec.
Lavigne says the hope is now that it will be a 14-game season with each team playing each other twice.
In addition to the Alexandria squad and the Comets, the new clubs entering the EOSHL this season are the Frontenac Phantoms (from Godfrey) and the Smiths Falls Rideaus. The Cornwall Prowlers won the inaugural playoff championship last year, while the West Carleton Rivermen were tops in the regular season and playoff runners-up. The Deseronto Bulldogs are also set to return for a second go-round, as is the Maxville entry, which has been renamed the Mustangs after playing last season, under different ownership, as the Millionaires.
The Char-Lan Rebels have two new players this week, having received Graham Robertson and Alexim Veilleux from the Alexandria Glens in a trade.
The EOJHL Glens dealt the duo to their southern rivals in exchange for a player development fee (PDF) and future considerations.
Robertson, who hails from Maxville, is 18-years-old and plays forward. Checking in at 5 ft. 8 in. and 165 lb, the teen started last season with the Rebels before being signed by the Glens. He had one goal in five games with Char-Lan. In Alexandria, Robertson skated in 38 games, notching 15 points. He’s a product of the Seaway Valley Rapids hockey club.
Calling Hawkesbury home, Veilleux started the 2019-20 campaign in the CCHL (junior ‘A’) with the Kanata Lasers, playing five games. He then joined the junior ‘B’ Glens. With the Alexandria squad, he suited up for 37 games, recording 16 points and 240 penalty minutes. The 19-year-old winger is 5 ft. 8in, 150 lb. In all, he played 36 games at the junior ‘A’ level, beginning with a stint two seasons ago as a member of the Cornwall Colts.
On the trade, the Glens organization stated, “We would like to thank Alexim and Graham for their service and wish them the best with Char-Lan.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many Canadians hunger for some normalcy, hoping for the return of hockey.
Some leagues have taken tentative steps to resumption, such as the QMJHL which began regular-season play earlier this month only to see much of the league forced to shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks on teams and provincial government orders in some parts of the province. Other leagues, such as the CCHL and EOJHL have tried scrimmages, allowing each club to partner with one other in non-contact play. Elite minor hockey went the route of bubbles, but again with no contact, while local minor hockey programs have focused on training and development.
All this leaves the fan wanting more.
So how about a little hockey humour courtesy of TSN?
Or what about a hockey movie? Bleacher Report compiled a list of “must-see” movies for the hockey fan. You can check it out here. What do you think? Is there a film missing?
Fans (as well as players, coached, etc.) have to remain hopeful that hockey will return eventually to rinks near and far, hopefully sooner rather than later. Elite junior leagues currently appear to be targeting December or January re-starts, while the NHL is also looking at January 2021 to begin its next season.
Over in Europe, regular play has begun. For example, subscribers to DAZN can watch games from the KHL online.
That Maxville Mustangs and the Glengarry Pipers of the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (senior ‘A’ men’s) will play an exhibition scrimmage on Saturday, October 24, in Alexandria.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic health and safety requirements, tickets must be purchased in advance, and the number of spectators permitted will be limited to 50. No ticket sales will take place at the door. The wearing of a face mask is mandatory.
For ticket purchase, you can reach out to Bubba Wensink by telephoner at 613-330-0474 or by e-mail at email@example.com
The teams are scheduled to warm up at 8 p.m., followed by the opening puck drop at 8:30 p.m.
The non-contact game at the Glengarry Sports Palace will be the first action of the season for both club, as regular play remains on hold.
The Lancaster and District Curling Club had hoped to open a modified season this month, but that was contingent on sufficient full-time members signing up. That didn’t happen, so the club’s executive has decided to delay the start of the season until January in hopes that membership numbers increase.
In light of operating costs, the Lancaster club needed “at a minimum, 80 full-time memberships committed and paid” by the set deadline of October 15.
“Thank you to all who have responded to our call but unfortunately there were insufficient memberships by the deadline and after reviewing the income/expense data, and considering the rising COVID cases the season will not begin as planned.”
In addition to a modified curling season, Lancaster is aiming to resume its Learn to Curl program in January.
Club president James Doonan notes, “By shortening the curling season, we will be better able to control losses. As well, during this period, we will review and update the control measures for COVID previously communicated.” For more on the changes to curling this season, please see this previous post.
“The club is committed to having play this season so long as authorities allow. We are aware that it is a major social aspect of many people’s lives in the winter months and we hope to provide a welcoming and above all safe experience for everyone.”
James Doonan, club president
Full refunds and/or pro-rated refunds are (and will be) available.