It’s just 58 kilometres from the Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens
to the Cobourg Community Centre, a quick 39-minute jaunt west on the 401 …
maybe a little more, depending on traffic.
That’s what separates the Trenton Golden Hawks and Cobourg Cougars, bitter
rivals who face off beginning Friday in the semifinals of the Ontario
Junior Hockey League playoffs.
It’s a series that means everything to both teams, but at the same time
means nothing in the grand scheme.
Because no matter who wins the best-of-seven showdown – the third meeting
between the teams in the last five years (Cobourg won in 2013, Trenton
returned the favour in 2015) – both teams will live to play another day.
The Cougars are hosting the 2017 RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A
Championship, while the Golden Hawks are the host team for the Dudley
Hewitt Cup, the Central Region championship.
So while both want to keep their OJHL title hopes alive, a loss does not
mean game over.
Just don’t expect either team to go easy with a berth in the league final
on the line; the Golden Hawks want a chance to defend their 2016
championship, while the Cougars want to enter the national tournament with
their first-ever Buckland Cup in the trophy case.
“It's not going to be easy, but we've been waiting for this all year,”
Cobourg defenceman Brennan Roy said after the Cougars saw off the
Wellington Dukes in five games in the quarter-finals. “[The Golden Hawks]
were a great team all season and we were, too. It's time to show who's the
Roy isn’t kidding; Trenton and Cobourg finished the regular season
separated by just five points in the East Division, posting the second- and
fourth-best records in the OJHL, respectively.
And they were dead even when they went head to head, with each winning
twice in four meetings. Both teams won once at home and once on the road,
although the Cougars outscored the Golden Hawks 14-10.
Cobourg drew first blood, earning a 6-3 road win on Oct. 14. Trenton took
the next two, getting a 3-2 victory away from home on Nov. 14 and a 4-3 win
at the DMMCG on Dec. 9, before the Cougars triumphed 3-0 on home ice in the
regular-season finale on Feb. 25.
The OJHL semifinal marks just the second time ever that the RBC Cup host
and a regional host meet in league playoffs; in 2013, Summerside and Truro
clashed in a five-game MHL final before meeting twice at the Fred Page Cup,
and once more at Canada’s National Junior A Championship.
Only time will tell if the Cougars and Golden Hawks will repeat that feat,
and stretch their rivalry right through to mid-May.
Tickets are still on sale for the
($225 for a 13-game tournament package) and
Dudley Hewitt Cup
($125 for an eight-game tournament package). Packages can be purchased
online, or at the respective box offices.