Char-Lan Crusaders recognized with online sports awards ceremony

Char-Lan District High School’s physical education director, Chantal Armstrong, announced the 2019-20 recipients of Crusaders athletics awards via an online ceremony.

Grace Laplante was named the school’s female athlete of the year, while the male award will be shared between Nicholas Oeggerli and Andrew Dixon.

Honoured as senior athletic participants of the year were Duncan McRae and Katherine Thompson.

The most promising grade 9 athletes named were Lila Mines, Grace Rouleau, Daniel Desroches, and Chad Watson.

Char-Lan Lettermen: Logan French and Lilah Mines (grade 9), Connor Spence and Hannah Lamarche (grade 10), Seamus O’Connell and Jorja McLeod (grade 11), and Jake Vanderburg and Jordan Andrews (grade 12).

Individual sports awards: Jordan Andrews (curling sportsmanship, senior girls basketball sportsmanship), Cameron Belisle (novice boys volleyball MVP), Jack Cayer (senior boys volleyball MVP, senior boys basketball MVP), Quinton Claude (junior boys basketball sportsmanship), Andrew Dixon (golf, boys hockey MVP), Robin Donnelly (tennis MVP), Grace Eamer (curling MVP, junior girls basketball sportsmanship), Cole Fournier (tennis sportsmanship), Kaye Fraser (novice girls basketball MVP, novice girls volleyball sportsmanship), Maggie Hope (junior girls basketball MVP, junior girls volleyball MVP), Grace Laplante (tennis MVP, senior girls volleyball sportsmanship, girls hockey sportsmanship), Josh Leduc (junior boys basketball MVP), Kayden MacCrimmon (junior boys basketball sportsmanship), Fiona MacDonald (senior girls volleyball MVP), Duncan McRae (senior boys basketball sportsmanship), Rory McCuaig (novice boys volleyball sportsmanship), Kiaryn McDonald (novice girls basketball sportsmanship), Frances McDonell (junior girls basketball MVP, junior girls volleyball MVP), Nicholas Oeggerli (senior boys volleyball sportsmanship, senior boys basketball MVP, boys hockey sportsmanship), Tessa Ramsey (junior girls volleyball sportsmanship, girls hockey MVP), Bryanna Rombough (novice girls volleyball MVP), Katherine Thomson (senior girls basketball MVP), Chad Watson (junior boys basketball MVP).

With the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering the school from mid-March, other sports, including soccer and track and field were not played this year, so no awards were presented.

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It’s back to the old for region’s junior B hockey league

What’s old is new again, as the saying goes. The Central Canada Hockey League 2 has become the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League, with junior ‘B’ hockey’s local loop returning to its roots.

Back in 2015, the CCHL2 was launched with fanfare, created from the ashes of the EOJHL. At the time, sources told me change was afoot amongst the existing junior ‘B’ hockey clubs which comprised the EOJHL. The Ottawa-based teams were looking to form a new league, aligned with the junior ‘A’ CCHL, while the remainder of the clubs from Alexandria through to Gananoque explored going on without them in a smaller junior ‘B’ league.

Longtime followers of the league would remember that back then there were two conferences, each with two divisions, and a total of 22 teams. Remember the Akwesasne Wolves, Morrisburg Lions, and Gananoque Islanders, among others? These clubs were left out when the CCHL2 was formed.

In April of 2015, I reported in The Glengarry News that the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League would cease operations.

Clubs interested in being part of the CCHL2 had to apply with the clear understanding that those behind the new league wanted to reduce its number to 16. As well, the teams had to commit to providing a CCHL-like (junior ‘A’) experience for players.

Both the Alexandria Glens and Char-Lan Rebels were successful in garnering franchises in the CCHL2. Over the ensuing five seasons, administratively, the junior ‘B’ league was largely run by those behind the junior ‘A’ hockey in Eastern Ontario, as was the U18 league which they took over as well.

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The former EOJHL website announcing the CCHL2 and its website in 2015.

Kevin Abrams served as commissioner of the leagues for this stretch, and with the 2020 rebrand, he hands the baton for the EOJHL to Sean Marcellus, who previously worked as director of hockey operations for the leagues.

“I take great pride in being named Commissioner of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League. I originally had my first hockey job in the old EOJHL working with the Arnprior Packers back in 2012 so to be able to take the reigns at the league level in 2020 is very exciting for me. Working alongside Kevin Abrams has benefited me in more ways than I can explain, he gave me a chance five years ago and his leadership and direction has prepared me greatly for this position. I am very thankful to our board of governors for showing confidence in me and I am excited at being tasked at helping lead this league in a positive manner moving forward.”

Sean Marcellus statement

From the league’s announcement of the change: “For the past five seasons, the CCHL2 has evolved into a top developmental league for the CCHL and levels above. That will continue with the new EOJHL but with a focus on independence as a league with 11 of the 16 teams operated without CCHL ownership.”

It is perhaps that word ‘independence’ that elicits the most curiosity, as one wonders how that will play out for the 2020-21 season and beyond. Part of the CCHL2’s raison d’être was its tight connection with junior ‘A’ hockey in Eastern Ontario. This relationship included clubs signing agreements with CCHL teams to facilitate the development and exchange of players. This went so far as some combined training, at least in the case of the Char-Lan Rebels (junior ‘B’) and Cornwall Colts (junior ‘A’).

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The former EOJHL was entirely independent of the CCHL, though clubs at the two levels did find ways to work together. It wasn’t uncommon, for example, to have a player signed to a junior ‘B’ card playing a handful of games at the junior ‘A’ level.

So indeed, this change may end up being a return to the past in many ways. But I wouldn’t bet on a return of any of the lost teams, the ‘B’ in the league’s name, or face cages (remember those?)

Meanwhile, work towards the on-ice product continues, as teams recruit players and plan for their 2020 training camps, scheduled for later this summer.

The Glens are looking to start August 22 in Alexandria. Details, including registration, here.

The Casselman Vikings are set to begin their camp on August 26. More information here.

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Char-Lan Skating Club celebrates athletes with remote awards

In a normal season, the Char-Lan Skating Club’s winter on the ice at Williamstown’s arena would culminate with a showcase of performance and on-ice awards presented to the top skaters.

But this is not a normal year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tail end of the club’s season was scrapped, along with the showcase.

With no prospect of being able to get the group together anytime soon in light of ongoing restrictions, the club remotely announced its award winners for the 2019-20 season.

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By way of a video, the club bid adieu to the 2020 graduating class.

And finally, the Char-Lan Skating Club recognized two of its young program assistants. These skaters are club members who assist the coaches in training of other skaters throughout the winter.

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skating award
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Houlzet recognized by Fleming College with cross-country award

Glengarry’s Matthew Houlzet marked his final year at Fleming College by being honoured with a Knights cross-country running team award.

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Fleming College’s cross-country running athletes, including Matthew Houlzet, third from right.

Due to the COVID-19 shutdown of Ontario’s colleges, the school presented its honours remotely, with Houlzet recognized with the coaches’ award for cross-country. Teammates Daniel Sellers and Frances Emery, respectively, received the men’s and women’s MVP awards.

Looking back on the running season, the graduate of Glengarry District High School tells me that the highlight for him was the frequent travel with his Knights team. Excursions for meets took the squad to Windsor, London, and Toronto..

“We were a small team,” he adds, “with only myself and one more runner returning from last year, so this [the travel] offered time to get to know the other runners and coaches pretty well.”

Houlzet graduated this past spring from the Fleming College occupational therapist assistant and physiotherapist program.

“I’d like to thank and send appreciation to all of the people who have helped me along the way. Classmates, teammates, faculty and friends, you have all been amazing and I’ll remember these couple years with fond memories. Until next time, Peterborough.”

Matthew Houlzet statement on wrapping up his collegiate studies and athletics career

He had been expecting to be busy working for the Glengarry Soccer League this summer, serving as referee assigner and minor referee in chief; however, the COVID-19 pandemic put a crimp in those plans. The GSL minor season was cancelled, and the senior (adult) schedule has been pushed back until later in the summer, at the earliest. In the meantime, Houlzet has been working on a local hop farm.

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Cyclist to pedal 250 km perimeter of SDG in fundraiser

Joe McNamara plans to take to his bike on June 20, cycling 250 km to complete a perimeter ride of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, raising funds for charity.

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Joe McNamara challenges local cyclists to join his fund-raising effort this month

The ride will support the Rotary Club of Cornwall and local food banks, and you can get on board in one of two ways: by sponsoring McNamara or by participating in a virtual ride of your own.

He plans to set off on his journey at 5:45 a.m., aiming to complete the course by sundown, around 8:50 p.m. on what is the longest day of the year, our summer solstice.

You can support McNamara by donating here.

Cyclists who’d like to register to join in a virtual ride on June 20 will receive a special patch, stick, and certificate in recognition of their achievement. A portion of the entry collected will be donated to the Rotary Club of Cornwall Sunrise Foundation and distributed evenly to local food banks.

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South Glengarry officially shutters all rec facilities, programs through the summer

It’s official: sports and recreation facilities, along with all programming, will be shuttered through the end of the summer in the township of South Glengarry.

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The closure means that all township-organized sports leagues, summer camps, and recreation programs are cancelled through to September 1. As well, facilities are closed and will not be accepting bookings.

The township’s notice indicated they had received 1000 registrations to date for various programs.

From the announcement…

“Township staff relied on guidance from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), which ensures municipalities are meeting, or exceeding, the orders issued by the Province of Ontario. The Township’s summer camp and programs, as originally planned, would not presently meet COVID-19 prevention and control measures for physical distancing requirements, participant ratios, and access to facilities,” explained Rick Ladouceur, director of recreation and facilities with the Township of South Glengarry.

May 28, 2020 statement from the Township of South Glengarry

Refunds will be issued to those who had already paid for programming.

The township notes that while organized programming has been cancelled, outdoor facilities are open and available for use, with some restrictions.

Trails, tennis courts, soccer fields, and ball diamonds are open, though residents are reminded to follow physical distancing guidelines set by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Ford government.

Closed in the township are the splash pad in Williamstown, play structures, picnic areas, and all indoor facilities.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be expecting a positive impact to the township’s budget, though.

As Lachlan McDonald, South Glengarry’s treasurer and general manager of corporate services, explains to me that “we have deployed a lot of those resources to maintenance items, and with halls/facilities closed it is the optimal time to re-fresh – coat of paint, plaster holes, etc. The interesting thing, when thinking about soccer, is that despite no soccer/parks, we are still keeping the grass cut.”

As well, full staff continue to work, though have been “deployed somewhat differently.”

Budget-wise, the recreation and facilities line went from $1,428,030 in 2019 to $1,759,800 for 2020. McDonald adds, “I’m hoping some of the efficiencies found during these times of austerity will have an afterglow in budget 2021 and onward.”

North Glengarry and Cornwall

In Cornwall, recreation programs remain suspended. As for facilities, the city has closed the aquatic centre, the multi-sport complex, the civic complex, the BMX track in Guindon Park, play structures, picnic areas, the outdoor gym, splash pads, and outdoor pools.

Meanwhile, outdoor recreational facilities, such as fields, ball diamonds, the skatepark, and tennis courts, are “open for low-contact, single-competitor sports. No team play is permitted. Clubhouses and change rooms remain closed.”

Some of the the city’s public washrooms at recreational areas are open, though.

Also open are Marina 200, boat launches, and trails.

North Glengarry continues to follow recommendations from the Ontario government, mayor Jamie MacDonald tells me. The township hasn’t made any decisions regarding the summer, as of yet, though.

As the North Glengarry website notes, “At this time playground equipment and bathrooms remain closed until further notice. Users are asked to respect Public Health safety recommendations while using any park installations.”

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Great Raisin River Footrace goes virtual for 2020

Back in April, with concern over the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, organizers of the 2020 edition of the Great Raisin River Footrace took the unprecedented step of halting registrations for the run, scheduled for August. This week, the group went a step further, cancelling the in-person race and switching to a virtual format instead, as a number of other runs across the region have done.

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The 2020 Footrace is the 42nd edition of the run in Williamstown, and again this year, it is being organized by Beyond 21, with Jane McLaren telling me, “We really want to maintain the tradition of this race, but with the COVID-19 cancellations of most events … well, it has been a challenge. So we are going virtual!”

She adds, “The race continues to be a fundraiser in support of The Hub for Beyond 21 Foundation (we provide services for adults with developmental disabilities in S. D. & G.). For more information on the work of Beyond 21, please see their website.

As for the now modified Footrace, participants can walk or run either an 11 km or 5 km distance on August 7, 8, or 9, and then upload their times to the results tracking site.

Registration is ongoing online here.

For your entry, you will receive a custom running buff (first 125 registrants who complete either the 5K or 11K), a handmade race medallion created by Beyond 21 participants (for the first 60 registrants in the 11K only), a virtual race bib, and “bragging rights to say you were a part of history – the only time the Great Raisin River Footrace has run a virtual edition.”

Organizers plan to host a pick up day in Cornwall for buffs and medallions. Those out of town or unable to attend will receive their buffs and medallions by mail. Pick-up and mailing will take place a few weeks after the race weekend.

Organizers not this year there will be no age group / division prizes due to the race being virtual.

More general information on the Great Raisin River Footrace can be found on their Facebook page.

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Williamstown runner completes virtual marathon

Williamstown’s Wendell Lafave, a marathoner who’s completed runs in every Canadian province, every U.S. state, and many other places around the world (including Antarctica), finished the Ottawa Virtual Marathon on Sunday.

The event was organized following last month’s cancellation of Race Weekend in the nation’s capital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Ottawa Marathon is a popular course for many from our region, with some using it as a qualifier for the storied Boston Marathon. The Boston run, along with the St. Lawrence Marathon (Cornwall) are among other 2020 events that have been cancelled.

As described on the Ottawa Virtual Marathon website, organizers have chosen to go virtual this year, extending the participation opportunity through to September 7.

“CANADA’S BIGGEST MARATHON WEEKEND HAS GONE VIRTUAL!”

Athletes are encouraged to “run your race at your pace while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines provided by your local public health agencies … Ottawa Virtual Race Weekend 2020 participants will receive all the amenities of a live, in-person event: a customizable race bib, commemorative finisher medal and T-shirt, option to upload finish times to the Sportstats results platform, plus a few surprises from our event partners.”

Participants will also receive a 50 percent entry fee reduction for the 2021 run, which hopefully will return to the streets of Ottawa.

In addition to the marathon distance, there are shorter runs available (half marathon, 10 km, 5 km, 2 km), as well as a kids run of 1.2 km.

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NGS Braves minor hockey recognizes award winners ‘virtually’

On March 14, the hockey season came to an abrupt end across the country, as Hockey Canada announced the immediate suspension of all activities in response to health advice related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst the groups affected was the North Glen-Stor Minor Hockey Association, which saw games cancelled, and eventually the remainder of the playoff season. Along with that came the cancelling of the traditional end-of-season celebration, where awards are handed out. So for 2020, the honourees were recognized virtually.

Using the group’s Facebook page, players and volunteers across the association were honoured.

Here are the special award recipients (NGSMHA graphics)…

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New head coach named for junior B Glens in preparation for 2020-21 CCHL2 season

The Alexandria Glens of the CCHL2 have a new head coach, and his name is a familiar one in local hockey circles, as Carl Robillard has been named to the post to guide North Glengarry’s junior ‘B’ hockey team into the 2020-21 season.

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Carl Robillard

The Wendover resident has an extensive coaching background at the top level of minor hockey.

As Robillard puts it, “I actually know many of the players on the current roster and others who will compete for roster spots on this team.”

The new bench boss notes, “Although there are definite changes on the horizon, I know there is potential for this group of young men. We expect to ice a young team with a sprinkle of key veterans to help lead the way. Our goal is to make the playoffs this coming season while establishing a reputation within the league as being a very hard team to play against every single night. This is a staple of my teams from the past and this team will be no different.”

On what he predicts for fans, Robillard says, “We will bring a mix of skill, speed, and compete in all phases of the game. Once we build our young core, we expect to compete for a championship for years to come. That is our ultimate goal once the puck drops to start our season.”

In announcing the new head coach of the Glens, general manager Derick Viau described the 50-year-old Robillard as “a bright coach and great leader who has a track record of both effectively developing young players and successfully motivating veterans.” He added, “We love his coaching resume and are confident that he has learned from every stop during his career, and has the best skill set to get the maximum potential out of our team.”

Viau was my guest for the inaugural edition of the sportsguysean podcast:

Note, this podcast episode can be found on various hosting services, including Spotify and Breaker. Current and prospective members of the Glens can leave me a voice message on Anchor, and the clip may find its way into a future episode of the sportsguysean podcast. Be sure to follow the sportsguysean podcast on your favourite app or platform.

In addition to taking the helm of the junior ‘B’ Glens, Robillard will serve as head coach of the Eastern Ontario Wild major bantam ‘AAA’ team during the 2020-21 this season.

Viau notes that his new bench boss “has over 12 years of coaching experience” and “his coaching philosophy is pretty simple… [building] around these three basic principles: TEAM FIRST, HARD WORK, and DISCIPLINE.”

The general manager, who’s entering his second year in that capacity with Alexandria’s CCLHL2 hockey club, says, “In order to achieve these principals, Carl strives to build an environment that encourages players to learn and develop on and off the ice, while creating a positive learning atmosphere in both good and hard times. All players need to be given the opportunity to develop their skills in a structured and disciplined learning environment that constantly challenges them while providing encouragement and support. He firmly believes that, when dealing with highly motivated and committed athletes, strong communication skills in both a group and/or an individual setting is the cornerstone of any coach’s responsibility.”

Robillard’s coaching resume includes…

  • 2014-15 regular-season championship with major peewee ‘AAA’
  • 2014-15 playoff championship major peewee ‘AAA’
  • 2014-15 provincial silver medal
  • 2014-15 OEMHL ‘AAA’ Coach of the Year
  • 2015-16 regular-season championship minor bantam ‘AAA’
  • 2015-16 playoff championship minor bantam ‘AAA’
  • 2015-16 Toronto Marlies Holiday Classic ‘AAA’ Championship
  • 2017-18 TELUS Cup Central Region Midget ‘AAA’
  • 2018 OHL drafted players: 10 from the Eastern Ontario Wild and 6 from the Hawkesbury Hawks

The new Glens head coach recently connected with some of his players by way of video conference.

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Players and staff connecting via video conference. (CCHL2 Glens photo)

For more background on the Alexandria Glens, please see my earlier post wrapping up last season.

Prior to the announcement of Robillard taking the team’s coaching reins, the Glens announced that last year’s head coach, Marc Rousseau, would not be returning. “We thank him for his time served with us [and wish him] best of luck in future endeavours.”

The Glens also parted ways with their assistant coaches, Marco Pozzebon and Stephane Ouellette.

Training Camp

Subject to Hockey Canada rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alexandria CCHL2 Glens have scheduled their 2020 training camp for the Glengarry Sports Palace, beginning August 22.

Players ages 16 through 20 are invited to register online. More information is available on this webpage.

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