Stefano Durante has already enjoyed a rather successful junior hockey career.
But the 20-year-old Cobourg Cougars goalie is still seeking some accolades prior to concluding his junior days this May.
Regardless of how Durante and his teammates fare during the rest of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) playoffs, they know they will still be playing in a few months.
That’s because as hosts, the Cougars are guaranteed a spot in the five-team RBC Cup tournament, the national Junior A championship. The event runs May 13-21 at the Cobourg Community Centre.
Durante said it’s tough not to think about the Cougars’ upcoming participation in the Canadian tourney.
“It’s in the back of your mind but you keep going day to day,” he said.
Before vying for a national crown, however, the Cobourg side has its mind set on other goals.
Though they do have home-ice advantage in the second round of the OJHL playoffs, the Cougars will hit the road to face the Wellington Dukes on Friday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven North/East Conference semifinal series.
Games 2 and 3 will then be staged Monday and Wednesday in Cobourg.
There are now eight clubs remaining in the hunt for the OJHL title. Durante likes his club’s chances of going all the way.
“We’ve got a great defensive core and a great offensive core,” he said. “We scored a lot of goals in our first series.”
Cobourg was the only team to sweep its opening-round playoff series, eliminating the Kingston Voyageurs in the minimum four games in their best-of-seven affair. The Cougars outscored the Voyageurs 19-12 in the series.
Durante picked up the W in all four of those matches. The fact he backstopped the Cougars to those victories is not much of a surprise.
After all, Durante did have a league-leading 1.92 goals-against average in 32 regular season appearances, in this, his third and final year with the Cobourg club. He also posted an impressive 24-6-0 mark.
Besides leading the OJHL in shutouts (five), Durante also had the second best save percentage, .930.
This actually marked the second season Durante had the best GAA among OJHL puckstoppers. During his rookie campaign he had a 1.79 GAA in 26 appearances, while posting a 19-6-1 mark and five shutouts.
During his sophomore season in Cobourg, the Cougars were in a rebuilding mode and Durante’s numbers were not quite as impressive. But he was named as the OJHL’s Humanitarian of the Year for his numerous off-ice volunteer efforts.
Yet Durante is still trying to prove himself. A handful of NCAA Division III schools have offered him deals for next season. But he’s hoping something better will come along in the upcoming weeks.
“The dream has been to play Division 1 hockey,” he said. “I’m just going to keep playing every day. I think my numbers have proven I can be a Division 1 goalie.”Back to Top
1) Top 5 Most Improved Draft-Eligible CHLers
2) John Dahlstrom Pulls Out All The Stops in Medicine Hat’s Final Days of the Season
3) Cobourg Cougars Prepare for RBC Cup after OJHL Elimination
4) Well-Traveled Junior Player Hoping To Conclude Career With Championship
5) The Modern Age of Minor Hockey