The Cobourg Cougars had their hopes of winning an Ontario Junior Hockey League championship this season come to a crushing end in early April.
The Cougars were swept 4-0 in their best-of-seven OJHL semifinal series by the Trenton Golden Hawks.
But unlike all other Junior A squads across the country that had their campaigns end to soon, the Cougars will play again this season.
That’s because the Cobourg club is hosting, and thus receives an automatic entry, into the RBC Cup, the national tournament.
That five-team event, which is scheduled for May 13-21, will be held at the Cobourg Community Centre, the Cougars’ home rink.
Cobourg’s general manager Brent Tully is obviously among those team officials who would have preferred the Cougars had more success in their own league playoffs.
“We never planned on it,” he said of the Cougars’ semifinal exit. “At the same time, we knew we had a tough round to get through.”
Cobourg, which was seeded third in the league’s Eastern Conference, was up against the top-ranked Golden Hawks, who captured the OJHL title a year ago.
Despite being swept by Trenton, the Cougars were no pushovers in their series. The Golden Hawks won the first three matches of the round by just one goal. And the second and third games were decided in overtime.
Trenton wrapped up the series with a 3-1 triumph in Game 4 on Apr. 6.
The Cougars are now in the midst of a 36-day break before they play their RBC Cup tournament opener.
“There’s two ways of looking at it,” Tully said. “You’re out of game-type situations. But on the flip side, you’ll be well rested.”
While the Cobourg squad will still have several practices before the Canadian tourney commences, Tully said the club’s brass opted to give players a lengthy break. No team activities were planned during a 12-day stretch after the series loss against Trenton.
Those who don’t live in Cobourg returned to their hometowns during this break.
“We have a dozen or so players that live a significant distance from Cobourg,” Tully said. “When they do come back they are refreshed.”
The break is also a welcome time to heal for some of Cobourg’s key players.
For example, Cougars captain Josh Maguire suffered a broken hand during the team’s second-round series against the Wellington Dukes.
Tully anticipates Maguire, a 20-year-old forward, will return for the opening match at the nationals.
Maguire had finished second in team scoring this season, racking up 57 points (11 goals and 46 assists) in 54 regular season contests.
Tully also expects defencemen Nick Minerva and Reade MacInnis to rejoin the Cougars in time for the nationals. Both fractured a hand in the series versus Trenton.
Minerva, 20, joined the Cougars in January via a trade with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League. MacInnis, 19, is in his second OJHL season. He came to Cobourg midway through his rookie year in a trade with the Pickering Panthers.Back to Top
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