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.
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.
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.
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.
With the spring high school schedule shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Glengarry District High School was forced to find an alternate way to celebrate its athletes this year, creating a video celebration.
Typically at the end of each school year, student-athletes and their classmates gather together with coaches and teachers for the presentation of awards and trophies. However, this year, that wasn’t possible, as everything was shut down back in March.
Members of the Glengarry District High School Gaels cross-country running team, under the auspices of coach Glen Campbell, have been able to get in some informal, off-season training, in preparation for the fall season.
Campbell assembled training routines for the athletes who are taking it upon themselves to work on their fitness and long-distance running skills.
In high school’s the sport of cross-country running is typically begins shortly after the start of academic year in September, continuing through October. In addition to training at the school, athletes typically run in several optional meets in the fall, in preparation for the SD&G championship meet.
The hope is, this year, that cross-country will be one of the sports still on when/if a regular high school schedule resumes in September.
As part of the school’s year-end awards, École secondaire catholique Le Relais honoured two special athletes: Eric Cumberbatch and Jimmy Berry.
Cumberland, who is graduating this month and set to attend the Unversity of Ottawa this fall where he has been recruited as a member of the football team, received Le Relais’ Excellence in Sports Senior Award. The multi-sport athlete excelled in track (qualifying for OFSAA three years in a row), basketball, and volleyball.
The Excellence in Sports Junior Award went to grade 10 student-athlete Berry, who is a strong member of Les Rapides teams in soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alexandria’s Rylee Leger has been recognized with an athletics award from Algonquin College in Ottawa, named most valuable player of the women’s volleyball team
Graduating this spring from the Bachelor for Early Learning and Community Development Program, Leger was captain of the Thunder volleyball team for the 2019-20 season. She led the East Division in scoring and was second overall in the league.
The 6 ft. 2 in. athlete who plays the right side of the court is a graduate of Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School where she excelled in numerous sports, including soccer. In her graduating year (2016), Leger captured school athletics awards for volleyball and basketball. She was also recognized as the Senior Female Athlete of the Year.
She was also honoured that summer by the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame as one of 15 athletes invited to be celebrated at the annual induction dinner and ceremony.
On her time at Algonquin College, Leger says the MVP award was “a really great way to finish my college volleyball career.”
“It’s pretty amazing and quite an honour to have won Most Valuable Player, [be] East Scoring champ, [be named a] 1st team all-star, and to finish second overall in points for all of the OCAA in my last year”
Rylee Leger on her final season of collegiate volleyball
Her now-former head coach, Everton Senior, noted, “Not many in the OCAA can match the dominance of Rylee. We will have a major hole to fill with her departure.”
The Glengarrian adds, “I’m gonna miss it a lot that’s for sure, but it’s time for a new chapter.”
The Thunder had a 15-3 record over the course of the 2019-20 campaign, finishing second in the OCAA East Division. In the playoff opener, the Thunder prevailed over the Redeemer Royals, from Hamilton, 3 sets to 1 (25-11, 25-23, 21-25, 28-26) to earn a berth at the championship tournament, in North Bay.
There, the Algonquin ladies were felled in their opener, losing in straight sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-11) to St. Clair College, ending the season for the Thunder. St. Clair ended up taking bronze at the tournament, while Fanshawe claimed gold over Humber in the title match.
With all that has been going on in the world of late, it seems as though the season for the Alexandria Glens concluded a lifetime ago. Officially, the team’s 2019-20 CCHL2 campaign ended on February 25, with a 5-1 victory on home ice over the Athens Aeros.
It was one of few bright spots on the season that saw the Glens win just 9 of 44 games. The squad lost 31 in regulation time and a further 4 in either overtime or a shootout.
Following the team’s final contest of the winter, I interviewed alternate captain Nico Pozzebon and first-year general manager Derick Viau.
As Viau notes, it was right back to business looking towards next season. Little did he and the players know at the time what was in store for them and us in the weeks that followed.
In mid-March, we learned of the passing of Mike (Michel) Depratto. He was key in saving the Glens a few years back, leading a group of individuals who established the club as a community not-for-profit entity.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have just learned of the passing of Mike Depratto. He was involved in keeping the Glens in the community and he was HEO’s current 1st VP. He will be truly missed in the Community of Alexandria and Hockey.”
Alexandria Glens statement, March 14
A Hockey Eastern Ontario note, attributed to minor president Gary Hopkins, probably summed it up best: Depratto’s “contributions to hockey in Eastern Ontario cannot be overstated, but more importantly he has been a friend and a mentor to many of us on a personal level. We will miss him.”
The unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic altered plans for the Glens during the off-season as well, with the team having to cancel its annual team banquet and awards ceremony. Instead, award-winners were announced remotely.
Most Improved Player: #17 Elijah Boisvert
Glens Manager’s Trophy for Top Scorer: #11 Nico Pozzebon
Glens Sportsmanship & Ability Award: #8 Zachary power and #16 Ryan Leonard
Glens Leadership Trophy: #11 Nico Pozzebon
Glens Best Defenceman: #21 Nicolas Ouellette and #12 Zachary Bigras
Ernest Bellefeuille Award: #28 Alexim Veilleux
President’s Trophy for MVP: #11 Nico Pozzebon
From the general manager’s perspective, his first foray into leading a junior ‘B’ hockey club was a whirlwind, with Viau telling me that he has nothing but pride for all the players who contributed to the Glens over the course of he 2019-20 season.
Looking Towards the 2020-21 Campaign
General manager Viau’s to-do list is a lengthy one. Initially, a spring skate for players and potential Glens was planned, but that had to be nixed due to the hockey shutdown.
Regardless, planning for the new season had to continue. Online recruitment for the team’s August (hopefully) camp has been set up on the Glens website and can be accessed here. The team invites hockey players ages 16 through 20 years old to sign up or contact the general manager (firstname.lastname@example.org or at 613-360-0077) for more information. Payment of camp fees has been waived until further notice.
In terms of staff behind the bench, the Glens are looking for an equipment manager / trainer. Anyone interested should contact Viau.
Last year’s coaches – Marc Rousseau, Stephan Ouellette, and Marco Pozzebon – were slated to return for a second kick at the can, but the team has since parted ways with the trio. (See the updated story here.)
As things stand now, the Glens camp is scheduled to begin in late August, followed by the CCHL2 pre-season and regular season in September.
The hockey shutdown mandated by Hockey Canada in March curtailed the league’s 2019-20 playoffs in the second round, meaning there was no league champion declared.
Last evening, the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League (senior ‘A’) held an expansion draft for the three new teams to begin play this fall. Among them is the Glengarry Pipers, based at Alexandria’s Glengarry Sports Palace.
With the second overall selection, the Pipers picked Neil Chabot, who last season was a member of the EOSHL-championship-winning Cornwall Prowlers.
Glengarry’s second selection saw Brandon Billie added to the fold. He was with the West Carleton Rivermen for the 2019-20 season, where his now-former team was the playoff runner-up.
Mark Pearl, formerly with the Maxville team, was the Pipers’ third-round selection, and Maxime Bonin, from the Prowlers, was Glengarry’s fourth man added to the roster.
Frontenac Phantoms picks were Matt Wilson, Ryan Carisse, Blade Grigg, and Hayden Ford.
Chosen by the Smiths Falls Rideaus were Greg Harding, Thank you Power, and Joey Driscoll.
The main EOSHL draft is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, and will involve all seven franchises.
The Alexandria District Minor Hockey Association is well underway planning for the 2020-21 season. Individuals interested in coaching are invited to review the information on the ADMHA website and submit an application prior to the June 15 deadline.
This year’s spring season of community youth tackle football has been officially cancelled, as a result of health precautions in the fight with the COVID-19 virus.
The Cornwall Wildcats and Glengarry Gaels football clubs broke the news to their players and families, via social media.
Gaels club president Ian Parent stated, “Our spring program was due to start in the next few weeks, but the Ontario Football Alliance has suspended all activities for the month of May, forcing us to cancel our season.”
The club will be processing refunds in the coming weeks for anyone who had previously registered and paid.
Parent added in his announcement, “We will keep you informed of all further developments and are hopeful to be able to field our Varsity [high school] team in the fall. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for possible club events and fundraising activities.”
The Glengarry organization, based at GDHS in Alexandria, typically fields a spring team at each level, providing gridiron football for boys and girls aged 7 through 15.
The announcement from the Cornwall Wildcats: “Our Seaway Valley Spring House League was due to start playing games in early May. Registration numbers have been strong, but the Ontario Football Alliance, which is the governing body of football in Ontario, has suspended all football activities in May. THIS NOW FORCES US TO CANCEL THE 2020 SPRING SEASON.”
“We are hopeful for a 2020 NCAFA season. Traditionally try-outs begin in late July, with the season starting third week of August. We will continue to look to Football Canada and Ontario Football Alliance for guidance on start dates.”
Cornwall Wildcats announcement
The Wildcats recommend that athletes “continue to be active and to stay in shape,” adding, “We will be back on the field at some point and we want to be ready! Thank you to CROSSFIT CORNWALL and coach KYLE LABELLE for his great workouts on social media.”