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.”
Last Saturday in Williamstown, the junior ‘B’ Char-Lan Rebels hosted their first action of the season, skating to a 5-3 victory over the Alexandria Glens, in the second half of back-to-back non-contact scrimmages. With the win, the Rebs completed the weekend sweep of their northern rival, as the teams are set to collide again this weekend.
On the heels of a 3-2 win in Alexandria Friday night, Char-Lan maintained the pressure on the Glens an evening later in Williamstown, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first period, en route to prevailing at the final buzzer 5-3.
Tanner Gillies and William Zhang backstopped the Glens in the loss. Alexandria goals were netted by Nico Pozzebon, Kyle Joly, and Zachary Bigras. Picking up the assists were Nicolas Ouellette, Kyle Green, Tyson Allard, Pozzebon, and Alexandre Saul.
Taran Fiacco scored the game-winner for Char-Lan 14 minutes into the third period, on a power play, set up by Alexxi Paquette and an unidentified player. Cuyler Molinaro iced the victory in the late going, with an unassisted tally.
Earlier goals for the Rebels were scored by Ryan Grant (unassisted), Andrew Dixon (from Joseph Samson and Alexandre Elie) and Samson.
Ceili Picard came into the game midway through, backstopping the win, taking over for a young prospect who started.
“Home it was just nice to be back on home ice!! Call it a game, call it a scrimmage, it’s still the #BattleOfGlengarry. Another tight one! The Rebs take it 5-3! Thanks to the Township of South Glengarry for accommodating our fans tonight! #Safe #socialdistanced #GoRebsGo #EOJHL”
Char-Lan Rebels on Twitter
Here’s a video of the Glens during the warm-up.
Next scrimmages set for October 16, 17
On Friday, the Glens will again host the Rebels, with the teams switching to Williamstown for Saturday night to complete the four-game scrimmage series.
Both games are sold out. Anyone arriving without a ticket will be refused entry due to COVID-19 spectator limits.
The games can be viewed online, with a subscription to Hockey TV.
I am told that after these skates, the teams will focus on independent training and development, as much remains on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other developments, former Rebel Rylan Iwachniuk has been traded from his current team, the CCHL Cornwall Colts, to the Nepean Raiders, also of the region’s junior ‘A’ hockey league. The Raiders also got Jack Parker and a player development fee in the trade, while Cornwall received Tyson Tomasini in return.
Iwachniuk was a mainstay of the Char-Lan lineup last season, skating in 43 games and notching 17 points. The forward who hails from Ingleside is 18 this year.
The so-called hot spots for COVID-19 cases – Ottawa, Toronto, and Peel Region – have seen a number of new restrictions imposed by the provincial government. The new rules affect many aspects of society, including sports, which now will be prohibited from any scrimmages, limited only to training with physical distancing.
From the Ford government announcement… “In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis.”
The new rules, for these regions, will take effect on Saturday, October 10, at 12:01 a.m.
In terms of sports, the rules state, “Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).”
These three regions will also see social gathering numbers reduced to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, along with the closure of bars/restaurants for indoor service, gyms and fitness centres, gaming establishments, cinemas, performing arts centres, spectator areas at racing facilities, and more.
Earlier this week, MPP Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism, and culture industries, was quoted in a CBC News story about the provincial government’s plans for hockey, specifically the top junior league, the OHL. In the piece, MacLeod was quoted as stating that the OHL will have to “remove physical contact, including bodychecking, if it’s to have a 2020-21 season.”
According to MacLeod, as quoted in the story, the OHL is not interested in playing under a bubble format as the NHL did for its 2020 playoffs. The OHL had already delayed the new season, tentatively aiming for a December 1 start (unlike Quebec’s major junior hockey league which began regular play this month and has experienced COVID-19 positive cases).
The CBC News story about MacLeod and the OHL further indicated that the provincial government would require the OHL and all sports organizations in Ontario to remove close physical contact amongst players. Also complicating issues for the league is the fact two teams are located in current COVID-19 hot spots, while three other clubs play out of USA cities.
Regarding local junior hockey leagues, the EOJHL (junior ‘B’) has begin team-versus-team scrimmages without body contact, as has the CCHL (junior ‘A’), following the Hockey Eastern Ontario return-to-play policy and its high-performance league guidelines.
The so-called HEO Stage 3(a) allows “our players an opportunity to safely continue their development by participating in modified-for-COVID non-contact game play.” In addition to the CCHL and EOJHL, this applies to the HEO U18 ‘AAA’ and HEO Minor ‘AAA’ leagues.
The region’s junior ‘A’ hockey league is aiming to begin its 2020-21 season on October 1, pending approval of its return-to-play plan by local health authorities.
In a media statement issued September 4, the commissioner of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), Kevin Abrams, announced that his league, using the Hockey Eastern Ontario return-to-play plan as a guide, has been working with “four regional health units and ten municipalities through our twelve member teams” to formulate a path forward for hockey to resume.
The plan includes “modified play in pre-season” to begin October 1 for all teams, including the Hawkesbury Hawks and Cornwall Colts.
“In these uniquely challenging times, I must thank our member teams, the players and parents participating in the current programs, as well as the HEO RTP Task Team, the HEO Board and Staff, and the 4 local health units and facilities in the 10 municipalities that are home to the CCHL, for their support and patience as we work through these unprecedented times together.”
Kevin Abrams, commissioner of the CCHL
The 2019-20 CCHL season was abruptly halted in March, following instructions from Hockey Canada to suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league had just begun its playoffs, which included the Hawks, the second-place team from the Yzerman Division. The Colts didn’t qualify for the post-season, ending the campaign fifth in the division.
In preparation for the hoped puck drop on a new season, teams are spending this month engaged in training, skills development, and evaluation. Upon approval of the CCHL plan for the pre-season, Abrams will “submit a similar proposal for the commencement of the CCHL regular season in the ensuing weeks.”
Fresh off last weekend’s 2020-21 season training camp in Hawkesbury, the Hawks have announced the signing of a new goaltender.
The club inked 20-year-old Kirkland native Thomas Gale, who was recently named NCDC goaltender of the year for the 2019-20 season. The backstop is also an NCAA Division 1 commit, slated to play at Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts) starting with the 2021-22 season.
With the Boston Jr. Bruins last winter, the netminder posted a 2.38 goals-against average on 41 games.
The Hawks also recently announced an addition to their coaching crew, as Dominic Lamarche joined the club in the capacity of an assistant coach.
A local businessman, Lamarche has been coaching for the past seven years and formerly played in the CCHL. He’s a Hawks alumnus.
Rick Dorval returns as head coach and general manager.
On his signing of goaltender Gale, Dorval says, “I’ve been tracking Tommy for two years now. The way he reads puck coming off the opponent’s sticks [and] the way he plays the puck are beyond his years. Furthermore, his compete level will bring some leadership to this group. The opportunity to bring in a goalie with this experience and ability for the Fred Page Cup is going to be a big push for our program.”
It’s been tough for the squad to get back on the ice this summer, due to the COVID-19 situation. The club’s development camp was scrapped, while training camp was delayed until last weekend, operating under current Hockey Canada and health authority restrictions.
While teams across the region’s junior ‘A’ league have been busy with behind-the-scenes preparations and training camps, there remains uncertainty as to when/if the puck will actually drop on the 2020-21 campaign. At last check, the CCHL was looking at an October start, delaying its opening by a month. Currently, Hockey Canada guidelines and health authority regulations bar any inter-club play.
In what seems like some sense of normalcy returning to the hockey world, junior teams across our region are looking forward to their 2020 training camps, and the Hawkesbury Hawks of the CCHL are no exception, set to holds theirs starting later this week.
The 2020-21 training camp for the junior ‘A’ Hawks is scheduled to run August 21 through 23, at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex, in Hawkesbury.
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.
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.
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’).
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.
Prior to the shutdown, the region’s junior ‘A’ league held its annual bantam protect draft.
Hawkesbury’s first pick came fourth in the first round, as the Hawks chose Brad Horner, a defenceman from Vankleek Hill. He played last season with the Eastern Ontario Wild ‘AAA’ major bantam hockey team.
Other members of the Hawks 2020 draft class were Marc-Olivier McCarthy (forward, Glen Robertson), Yanick Blanchard (forward, Embrun), Derek Larocque (forward, Alexandria), Lucas Peever (forward, St. Albert), Mathieu Levesque (defenceman, Hawkesbury), Antoine Dorion (forward, Orleans), Jake Pulkinghorn (defenceman, Ottawa), Justin Flamini (defenceman, Cumberland), and Jayson McIntyre (forward, Orleans).
Of note, two of the draft selections are students at Alexandria’s École secondaire catholique Le Relais. Another student from the school was picked by the Cornwall Colts.
The Hawks ended the 2019-20 season second in the Yzerman Division, with a record of 36 wins, 24 regulation losses, and 2 overtime defeats, for 74 points. The squad was slated to open the CCHL playoffs against the third-place team from the Robinson Division, the Smiths Falls Bears (33-24-5, for 71 points). Interestingly, the teams had identical regular-season powerplay and penalty kill percentages, at 18.3 and 86 percent, respectively.
On the cancellation of the playoffs, Alexandria’s Felix Sauve, a rookie defenceman with the Hawks, admitted to me, “It sucks! We had a lot of key pieces this year which could have brought us far in the long run. It’s hard to say goodbye to some of the boys since you don’t know when you will meet or cross paths again.” However, the teen acknowledged, “The safety of everyone is the number 1 priority, so it was the right move.”
Sauve saw action in 52 games, notching 1 goal and 5 assists, along with 32 penalty minutes.
He was among several local athletes who were mainstays on the roster this season, including forwards Mathieu Sabourin and Jeremy Quesnel.
Hawk Luke Grainger was honoured with a league award as the 2019-20 Top Graduating Player. The skater from Beaconsfield led the CCHL in scoring with 82 points (34 goals, 48 assists) in 56 games. He’s committed to playing NCAA hockey next season at Western Michigan University for next season.
In the league’s announcement, head coach Rick Dorval was quoted as saying, “Luke’s development with and without the puck has been tremendous. He is one of the most electrifying players in this league and is always a threat to opponents. He can move as fast east-west as north-south. We will miss him next year but wish him the best of luck at WMU.”
Aside from Grainger, the Hawks bid adieu to Matt Gasuik, Azzaro Tinling, Sebastien Paquette, Shane McGrath, and Zach Johnson.
2020 Summer Camp
Registration for the Hawkesbury Hawks summer camp is now open. The event is scheduled for June 19 to 21, but is subject to change due to Hockey Canada mandates around the COVID-19 situation.
The camp will be held in Gloucester, at the Richcraft Sensplex. Entry is $250, and players will each have approximately 4.5 hours of ice time spread over three games.
With five regular-season CCHL games remaining, the Hawkesbury Hawks have already clinched a playoff position, currently placed second in the Yzerman Division, on a record of 34-21-2-0.
The team includes a trio of players from Alexandria.
Mathieu Sabourin is a 19-year-old forward, who checks in 6 ft., 146 lb. and wears jersey number 7. He’s played in 31 games this season with the junior ‘A’ hockey club, notching 10 points and 22 penalty minutes. Last season, Sabourin was in the CCHL2 with the Char-Lan Rebels.
Wearing jersey 15 is Jeremy Quesnel, also 19 and playing forward. The 5 ft. 8 in, 150 lb. skater has suited up for 56 Hawks games this season, scoring 31 points and taking 80 PIM. He was a member of the Cornwall Colts for the previous two seasons.
On defence is Felix Sauve, number 79. The 17-year-old blueliner, a rookie, is 5 ft. 11 in., 170 lb. He’s recorded 5 points and 28 PIM with the Hawks. Last season, he skated at the junior ‘B’ level with the Alexandria Glens.
Hawkesbury has one hometown player: Jeremie Payant is a rookie forward who wears jersey number 71.
The team’s roster of defensive players also includes St. Eugene’s Austin Gaspar and Samuel Mayer from L’Orignal.
All five of Hawkesbury’s remaining CCHL regular-season games this season are road contests, starting with February 28 in Brockville.