With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, some aspects of hockey life have gone on, while others have stopped or been changed. For a young goaltender from Embrun, the situation over the past few months delayed his visit to his OHL draft club until this week.
The 15-year-old Jackson Parsons, who was picked in the 2020 OHL draft in the third round, 53rd overall, by the Kitchener Rangers. The top junior league in the province held its draft virtually this year, so this recent visit to the team’s home was Parsons’ first opportunity to see their facilities and meet in-person with staff.
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.
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.
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.
At the conclusion of each junior ‘B’ hockey season, the Char-Lan Rebels CCHL2 hockey club traditionally hosts a year-end awards banquet, but due to COVID-19 concerns, that was not possible this time. Instead, the team wrapped up the campaign with a letter to players and fans online.
Included in the announcement was a list of team award winners for the 2019-20 season.
Owen Carter was named rookie of the year. The 6 ft. 2 in., 220 lb. defenceman from Ingleside logged 39 games and notched 21 points to go along with 107 penalty minutes.
The Sandilands Trophy for sportsmanship and playing ability was awarded to Alexandre Elie, a forward from St. Isidore. In 37 games, the 19-year-old recorded 41 points and 42 PIM.
Blueliner Dillon Spinner was named the recipient of the Kenneth A. MacDonald Award for overall proficiency. The 19-year-old from Fort Covington (New York) scored at a 0.57 points-per-game pace while accruing 54 PIM.
Taran Fiacco, from Cornwall, received the Marc Beaudet Memorial Award as best defensive forward. The 19-year-old, in his second season with the Rebels, played 37 games, recording 11 points and 21 PIM.
The Earle Sandilands Memorial Team Spirit Award is being shared by Rylan Iwachniuk and Paul Waldhauser, both forwards. Iwachniuk, aged 17, and Waldhauser, 18, both hail from Ingleside.
Noah Konink sees his name added to two trophies. He received the Dalton Amell Landscaping award as defenceman of the year and shared the most effective and dedicated player honours. The D-man from Long Sault is 21 years old and is the club’s lone graduating player. In his first full season with the Rebels, Konink played in 35 of the team’s 44 games, scoring 31 points and recording 22 PIM. His contribution included 11 power-play goals.
On the completion of his junior hockey career, team administration stated, “A tip of the cap goes out to our graduating defenceman Noah Konink. Thank you for all your contributions this season. The Rebels were very fortunate to have had you as part of the team.
The other winner of the most effective and dedicated player award was captain Joseph Samson. The Cornwall resident suited up for 40 games, notching 57 points and 108 PIM. His scoring included 10 power-play goals and 2 short-handed.
Samson was also named the recipient of the Robert Curran Memorial Trophy as MVP of the regular season.
Looking back on the 2019-20 CCHL2 campaign that saw Char-Lan finish sixth in the Martin Division, 11 points out of a playoff position, team staff noted it “was a year that began with much promise,” as the Rebels started strong, among the division leaders.
Coming off an exciting playoff run in 2018-19, the team added veterans Joe Samson and Noah Konink to a strong returning core, including Liam MacDonald, Taran Fiacco, and Dillon Spinner. We welcomed first-year players Owen Carter, Rylan Iwachniuk, Paul Waldhauser, and Kale MacCormick, as graduates of the U18 [Cornwall] Colts and Tim Cook from a USA high school. Jeff Carter [the team’s coach and general manager] made a few shrewd moves throughout the season, adding talented players Alexandre Elie, Hunter MacPherson, and Lochlan MacDonald via trade and re-acquiring Isaac Testani from the [CCHL] Cornwall Colts. We juggled six new faces through the crease, but eventually saw the emergence of promising young goaltender Ceili Picard. We also saw several affiliates make impacts in their debut.s. Unfortunately, the injury bug took its toll on key players like MacCormick, Parker Tallman, and Shane Gaudreau in a season that saw no player able to play all 44 games. While we fell short of the goal of making the playoffs, we made some definite progress. The future of the Char-Lan Rebels looks bright.
Char-Lan Rebels letter to players and supporters
The club extended a special thank you to Jeff Carter, assistant coach Kevin MacCormick, and trainer Dylan Seguin for their contributions through the season.
Due to COVID-19 concerns and a Hockey Canada directive to cease all hockey-related activities, as well as an order by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to close community and recreation facilities, the Alexandria Glens of the CCHL2 have deferred their board meeting, scheduled for March 25.
At this time of uncertainty in the sports world and otherwise, a new date for the meeting has not been set.
Lochlan MacDonald and Cuyler Molinaro scored the Char-Lan goals, with assists to Jacob Esdale, Joseph Samson, and Justice Brownlee.
Jackson Parsons and Ceili Picard split goaltending duties for the game, each playing approximately 30 minutes and charged with three goals.
The Rebels’ final record is 20 wins, 21 regulation losses, and 3 overtime/shootout defeats, for 43 points and sixth place in the Martin Division. Char-Lan missed the playoffs by 11 points, with Winchester taking the final spot for post-season action.
THANK YOU! 44 games, practices, MANY roster players, APs, trades, signings, injuries, effort and a lot of fun! Thanks.. players, sponsors, Phil (timekeeper) Ron (music), Dylan (Trainer), Kevin (asst coach), Coach Carter and the fans for your support! #nextyearstartsnow#GoRebsGopic.twitter.com/2i9F7ZzuxK
Char-Lan’s top point-getter was Samson, who had 57. He also led in goals, assists, and points per game. No Rebels played in all 44 games; the closest was Rylan Iwachniuk, who suited up for 43. Hunter MacPherson played 42 games, between his time with the Alexandria Glens and the Rebels.
Liam MacDonald earns league recognition
Rebel Liam MacDonald was named the CCHL2 second star for the week ending February 23.
The 19-year-old from Dunvegan had his first career hat trick and notched 8 points during the week.
MacDonald’s effort extended his point-scoring streak to five games (6 goals, 4 assists).
On the season, the forward skated in 37 games with the Rebels, scoring at a point-a-game pace. He recorded 16 goals and 21 assists in his second season with Char-Lan.
The league announcement, including details on the other stars of the week, can be read here.
The 2019-20 CCHL2 season for the Char-Lan Rebels will conclude tonight, when the team skates on the road against the playoff-bound Winchester Hawks. Game time at the Winchester Community Centre is set for 8:15 p.m.
Let’s finish with a win and look forward to a great 2020-21! #GoRebsGo #FinishStrong #FinishWithPride #FutureLooksBright
Char-Lan Rebels Hockey Club on Twitter
Char-Lan won its home-ice finale Tuesday night against the very same Hawks, rebounding from a two-goal deficit to score five unanswered and extend the Rebels winning streak to four games.
Despite skating hard and carrying the play through the first period of their February 25 contest at the Char-Lan Rec. Centre, the Rebels found themselves trailing 1-0 at the first intermission.
At the 5:20 mark of the second stanza, Winchester scored again, but the Hawks would be shut down from that point onward.
Late in the period, with 1:25 left, Alexandre Elie got Char-Lan on the board, assisted by Ryan Grant and Isaac Testani. Thirty-five seconds later, Cuyler Molinaro potted the equalizer, set up by Elie and Parker Tallman.
The Rebels took control in the third, as Noah Konink scored a natural hat trick. Assists went to Testani (2), Elie, Paul Waldhauser, Justice Brownlee, and Tallman.
Goaltender Summy Mughal started the game, switching at the midpoint with Ceili Picard. Together, they combined for 27 saves, while Char-Lan snipers had 33 shots at the Winchester net.
Konink, with his three goals, was named the game’s first star. Testani, with three assists, was tagged as second star.
Char-Lan went three-for-six on the power play, while the Rebels penalty killers grounded the Hawks through seven opportunities.