Bring on the playoffs … the RBC Cup hosts are ready.
The Cobourg Cougars closed out a successful regular season by earning
points in each of their last 14 games – 11 wins and three overtime losses –
ahead of a first-round series against the Kingston Voyageurs.
The Cougars needed every last one of those points to clinch second place in
an ultra-competitive East Division; six points separated the top three
teams – Trenton (87), Cobourg (82) and Whitby (81) – and all five teams
earned more points than the North Division champions, the Markham Royals.
Cobourg finished with a 39-11-0-4 (W-L-T-OTL) record, setting franchise
marks for wins and points in a season, dating back to its first season of
Junior A hockey in 1992-93.
So what was the key? There really wasn’t one specific thing the Cougars did
better than any other.
Offence and defence? They scored the third-most goals in the Ontario Junior
Hockey League (240) and allowed the third-fewest (126), both numbers
trailing the Georgetown Raiders and Trenton Golden Hawks.
Home and away? Their 20 wins on home ice were tied for fourth-best –
trailing Georgetown (26), Burlington (23) and Trenton (22) – and their 19
road victories left them even with Georgetown, just one behind Trenton.
Special teams? The Cobourg power play scored at a 22.6% success rate, good
for fifth in the OJHL, and the penalty-killing unit was No. 1, allowing a
league-low 26 PPGs (89.3%).
They did it all, and they did it all pretty darn well.
Up front, Ryan Casselman was the unquestioned leader; he was one of just
eight OJHLers to reach the 30-goal plateau – he finished with 31 – and was
the lone Cougar to earn a place in the top 25 of league scoring, landing in
sixth spot (31-42—73).
Cobourg had 13 different players hit double-digits in goals and eight
recorded 30 points or more, including Brennan Roy; the defenceman was
rewarded a spot on the OJHL First All-Star Team (alogside Casselman) after
to a 57-point campaign, second among OJHL blue-liners.
In the crease, Stefano Durante posted the league’s lowest goals-against
average for the second time in three seasons, shutting out Trenton in the
Cougars’ regular-season finale to finish with a 1.92 GAA. He also had five
shutouts, co-leading the league, and was second with a .930 save
So the team numbers were record-setting, and the individual marks were
impressive. But they will mean nothing without playoff success, and the
postseason begins with a familiar foe – it is the second year in a row the
Cougars and Voyageurs have met in Round 1.
Cobourg is out for a measure of revenge after suffering a four-game sweep a
year ago, although the Cougars’ roster includes only eight players who saw
the ice in that series.
Cobourg had the upper hand during the regular season, taking three of four
from their division rivals and outscoring the Voyageurs 22-9 in those
The Cougars’ playoff opener comes 73 days before they step onto the ice at
the Cobourg Community Centre for their first game at Canada’s National
Junior A Championship; they open their RBC Cup schedule against the Central
Region champions on May 13.